5 – Myranda
Myranda’s fists clenched as tight as they possibly could, and her jaw ached from clenching her teeth. She could never forgive Berent for everything he had done already, and now this…stunt of his was the proverbial final nail in the coffin. At least he didn’t seem to know that she had sided with Alazar. Not yet, anyway.
She wondered if there was a way to use that against him.
Everything was supposed to be so simple: get Alazar out of the Security Compound and away from Berent’s men, take him to the hospital in New Friesland and then take him and Meris’ vid-phone footage of the murders to the New Friesland Nexus Hub and broadcast the atrocity and Berent’s role in it to the seven colony planets. Then, they would just wait for Berent to be flushed out into the open by police units, arrested and put away for good.
Now, everything was unraveling before her eyes. First, they’d had to use their emergency backup plan to smuggle Alazar out of the hospital and flee New Friesland altogether, which cost them time, which made it so that Berent could get his twisted version of the story to the press before they could get the truth out. Now, they didn’t know where to go or who they could trust. Everything was falling apart.
And there wasn’t a thing she could do about it. She was clenching her jaw again. Forcing herself to open her mouth wide and work her lower jaw back and forth, she slowed her breathing and attempted to calm down. It was then that she realized she was pacing in the calf-high grass at the side of the mag-lev track.
Meris reached out and touched her arm the next time she passed by. “Hey, we’ll figure something out.”
Myranda stopped and faced her. “What makes you so certain?”
Meris blinked. “Because the truth will always win out.”
Myranda snorted. “I never pegged Sindrians as being so naive.”
“I’m not naive.” Was that a flare of anger in the younger woman’s eyes? “I just have faith. Berent won’t win.”
This time, Myranda laughed out loud, a bitter, tired chuckle. “Oh, honey, you don’t know him half as well as you think you do, if you believe that.” She looked around at the others: Alazar seated wearily in the open doorway of the transporter, Leo hovering next to him. “Berent Gaehts always get exactly what he wants. He may have to manipulate, insinuate, coerce, browbeat, wear you down into submission or overtly threaten, but, in the end, he’s gotten what he was after. Don’t ever forget that.”
“Then you have to tell us how to handle him.” Alazar fixed her with his calm, unwavering gaze. Only the dark circles under his eyes and the slight sheen of sweat on his skin betrayed the pain he must be in. Curse him and his relentless self-control! She wanted to scream. Or punch something. Or both. “I can’t imagine you spent your whole marriage caving in to this man. You are far too independent and capable. You must know ways to manage him, subtly.”
She crossed her arms and threw him a dark look. “Now you’re starting to sound like him. Backhanded compliments are his forte.” She took a breath and let it out slowly. “But, as it turns out, you’re right. I did learn to maneuver around him, once I found out what he was really like.”
Alazar turned his hands up. “So what do we do now?”
“I need to think.” She just couldn’t get her thoughts to stop swirling. “I never thought him capable of any of this, it just doesn’t make any sense.” Her fingers traced a slow circle on her temples. “Something had to have happened. Ellias was his best friend, he would never have hurt him or his crew unless something had gone horribly wrong.” She turned to Meris. “Did Ellias ever say anything to you?”
Meris, less adept at stifling her physical expressions of emotion than Alazar, seemed to flinch at the sound of her late fiance’s name. Myranda felt a bit of a monster for making her think about him so directly, but time was of the essence. Slowly, Meris shook her head. “No, nothing that would cause this.”
Alazar suddenly swore under his breath. Myranda and the others turned to him. He stared at the ground. “This really is my fault.”
Meris beat her to asking. “What are you talking about?” Myranda could hear how carefully she spoke. She, like Myranda, must be trying hard not to jump to any conclusions.
Alazar put his hand to his forehead. “I don’t know how he found out…”
Sweat was beaded on his brow. Myranda went to him and knelt in front of him. “Alazar? How are you feeling right now?”
Leo took a step closer. “Wait a minute, Myranda, let him keep talking.”
She touched his forehead. It was burning hot. “Leo, you and Meris get back in the transporter. We need to get out of here.”
Alazar grabbed her wrist in a crushing grip. “No, wait. I have to tell her.” His breathing was rapid again and she noticed blood had wicked its way through the scrub top.
“You will. But right now you need medical attention.” She looked up at Leo. “We need to get out of here now.”
“Oh, no.” Leo rushed to the door on the other side of the transporter and climbed in. Meris followed him.
Alazar’s eyes suddenly rolled back and his grip on her wrist slackened. She made a grab for him before he tumbled out of the transporter. “Meris! Give me a hand here, please.”
The Sindrian woman helped Myranda pull Alazar back into the transporter, propping him up slightly on her lap as Myranda lifted his shirt. The incision from his surgery had about a two-centimeter opening in the seal toward its middle. He was flushed and hot, and his pulse was racing.
She didn’t have much with her by way of medication or first aid. Leo had raided his house for everything he had and stashed it in this transporter, but she’d not seen much in there that would help Alazar in this particular situation. Still, she grabbed some antibac wipes and cleansed the open wound.
Leo closed the transporter door behind her and jumped into the pilot seat. The transporter started up and shot into the air, jostling the passengers. “Leo! We need to find a pet store.”
There was a beat of silence. “Pet store?”
She placed a hemostat gel seal over the opening in the incision. “I can’t take him back to the hospital, he’ll be recognized and thrown in jail as soon as he’s recovered, but he has to have antibiotics.”
“Okay, but I still don’t understand-“
“Just find me a pet store. I’ll take it from there.”
Meris wiped sweat from Alazar’s brow. “What’s wrong with him?”
“Infection. He’s going septic.”
Meris’ eyes went wide. “Can you fix it?”
A dozen different replies flitted through her mind, none of them very positive. She met Meris’ gaze and held it a long moment, weighing how best to answer her.
Chapter 4 Chapter 6