Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Fugitive Pair - Chapter 35

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< Chapter 34                                                                                                       Chapter 36 >
Our heroes lead the Psi Corps psychics toward freedom.

Kristin’s deft work breaking the hidden mechanisms of the airtight hatch of the Psi Corps office set off murmurs of appreciation among the other telekinetics in the group. The teenage girl smiled and deflected their praise by motioning to Zav and saying, “I had a really good teacher.”

Zav paid no attention to Kristin’s comment and joined Michelle. “You two have made quite an enemy in John. He’s as ruthless as they come and won’t take the loss of Sadie lightly.”

“What’s the deal with her, anyway?” Michelle asked. “And how come I could talk to Matt when she attacked me, but he was locked inside his own head?”

“I suspect it’s a question of power levels,” Zav responded. “John saw you as the key to controlling Matt, so Sadie only used a fraction of her power on you. Matt, on the other hand, got the full brunt of it in backlash when he shot Sadie.”

“My God, if what I felt was Sadie’s power on stun setting what was it like for you, babe?” Michelle unconsciously slipped an arm around me and pulled me close.

“Hey, I’m still in between you guys!” Cassie squawked, then she scooted out from between us and took Zav’s hand. “Okay, now you two can get all lovey-dovey.”

“Oh, that’s very generous of you, Cassie,” I said, pulling Michelle in for a quick kiss on the top of her head.

Though Michelle directed her question to me, Zav answered it. “The only person who truly understood Sadie’s abilities was John. She came to Psi Corps as a teenager. Her entire family died under mysterious circumstances and everyone assumed she killed them—which she obviously did. There was actual talk of putting her down-”

“That’s what you do to dangerous animals,” Michelle gasped, “not people!”

“Why do you think I had to leave Psi Corps?” Zav asked quietly. “Anyway, John volunteered to train Sadie. For safety, he took her somewhere remote, far away from other people, and worked with her for years. When they returned, the girl was devoted to John and did everything he asked. From then on, John’s ascent was rapid. Rumors circulated that he used Sadie to remove people blocking his way and the way of those loyal to him. John never denied those rumors, either. Office chief on Piscain Station is usually the last stepping stone to being named the head of the entire agency.”

“So, not only did we embarrass this John person, Matt killed the weapon he held over everyone else’s heads?” Michelle asked.

“Yes, exactly,” Zav said.

“Michelle and I never do things by half measures,” I responded as we came in sight of a bank of elevators. “But that’s a worry for later. Is there an elevator large enough to hold all of us?”

“The mass transit cars on either end of the row can easily carry us all,” Zav responded. “But they only go as high as level eight. After that, we’ll have to switch to smaller, restricted-access cars.”

Cassie skipped ahead of us, “I’ll call the elevator!”

The second the girl left our corridor and entered the huge elevator lobby, a man’s voice rang out. “You there, little girl! Stop where you are!”

Cassie came to a sudden stop and looked off to her right. “Are you talking to me?”

“Of course I’m talking to you!” A note of impatience crept into the voice. “Do you see any other little girls around here?”

Signaling everyone else to wait in the corridor, Michelle and I hurried toward the lobby. As we got close, Michelle called out, “Cassandra, come back here at once!”

Cassie turned our way as Michelle and I left the corridor. Ten meters or so to our right, a pair of uniformed station security officers marched our way.

Looking back and forth between the officers and us, Cassie pointed to the officers and said, “I can’t, Mom—that man told me to stop right here!”

“Of course he did, Cassie! A decompression alarm sounded and it’s his job to make sure silly little girls like you are safe.” Michelle turned an embarrassed smile toward the two men. “In all the confusion, she just slipped away from us. Thank you for stopping her for us.”

The officers’ pace changed from a purposeful march to a more casual walk, but they kept coming our way. One of them said, “Just doing our job, ma’am, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to report this. Ignoring a decompression alert is a serious safety breach.”

“Is that really necessary, officer?” I asked. Turning a stern look on Cassie, I said, “Rest assured my daughter will be punished.”

“Sorry, sir, but rules are rules.” The two officers stopped a couple of meters away. If they got much closer, they’d see the mass of people in the corridor. The one doing all the talking pulled out a data pad. “Names and address, please?”

The second officer’s eyes suddenly widened and he reached for his holstered blaster. “It’s the Connaughts! They’re-”

Michelle took one step forward and kicked the second officer under the chin. His head snapped back and he fell to the floor.

The first officer tapped his badge with one hand as he took a step toward Michelle. “Officers under attack! Send-”

My fist caught the officer on the ear. He stumbled to the side and tripped over his partner. His hand scrabbled for his blaster as he struggled for balance. His eyes widened in terror as Michelle drew her own gun. The crack of blaster fire echoed around the lobby as my wife shot both officers.

Gasps sounded from up the corridor, drawing an exasperated expression from Michelle. “It’s still set for stun. Good God, just how bloodthirsty do you think I am?”

From the officer’s badge, a voice called, “Backup is on the way, Ellis! What is your situation? Ellis?”

“Cassie, go summon the elevator now!” I said and she took off for the elevators at a run. I waved to the others who were still huddled in the corridor, “This place will be crawling with station security in just a few minutes. If you don’t want them dragging you back to Psi Corps, get going!”

That got everyone moving, with several of them even breaking into a run. Running ahead of them, I drew my own blaster and made sure it was set for stun. Michelle and I trained our guns on the closed elevator doors, ready to fire if the approaching elevator carried security officers responding to the call. Thirty seconds later, the doors slid aside and revealed an empty car. Shouts and running feet echoed down all of the corridors as we rushed people into the elevator.

“Move all the way to the back! We don’t have time for anything else!” Michelle said, providing helpful pushes to anyone who dawdled too much. “Matt, get inside and see if you can disconnect this car from station security’s control. As soon as reinforcements get here, they’ll call for an elevator override.”

I ducked inside and shoved my way to the controls. Of course, I had no tools and no way to open the panel. “Kristin, I could use some help here!”

The girl hurried to me. “What do you need?”

As she asked that, the last of our people entered the elevator. Michelle was right on their heels. “Take us up, Matt!”

Punching the icon for level eight, I said to Kristin, “Can you pry this control panel free? I need to get to the electronics behind it.”

Shouts sounded from the elevator lobby as the doors slid shut. Kristin concentrated on the control panel as the car began a swift ascent. Sweat popped out on the girl’s brow as she strained with something much harder to break than the delicate electronics she normally sabotaged.

Slowly, ever so slowly, one side of the control panel pulled out from the wall. Then the elevator jerked to a stop. Station security was in control of our car!

Can Kristin open the control panel in time for Matt to override security’s control? Find out in Chapter 36, coming Friday!