6 – Wyll
Wyll’s vid-phone vibrated, making a loud rumbling sound on the stainless steel countertop. He snatched it up and read the buzz, surprisingly from Meris instead of his sister.
Saw newsfeed. Trying to plan next move, but Alazar took a bad turn – septic. Myranda doing her best with fish medication. Don’t ask. Are you two safe?
He re-read the third-to-last sentence twice, sure he had read it wrong. Fish medication?
“What now?” Zac’s voice was hollow and raspy. Neither of them had gotten much sleep since they staged the PCV crash and fled New Friesland. Especially not since they’d arrived at Jenna’s apartment. The reminders of their fallen comrade and proximity to Stell-Ore had left them feeling emotionally raw and hyper-vigilant, even if they’d convinced themselves that no one would look for them here.
“Alazar’s gone septic.”
Zac paled. “He’ll live, though, right? Myranda, she’ll -“
“I don’t know.” He hadn’t meant to growl at him, but why did everyone always assume he had all the answers?
“Okay… Okay…” Zac sat down at the metal counter, perched on the tall, swiveling stool next to Wyll’s and began drumming his fingers on the countertop. It was grating on Wyll’s already strained nerves, but he knew better than to interrupt the Egalian man’s process. “I’ve been thinking about backup plans ever since we saw just how bad Alazar’s injuries were. We still have Myranda’s statement and Meris’ vid-phone footage…”
“Which only proves that I killed Ellias Gammet.” -the crack of the airbolt and the crimson spray of the Sindrian man’s blood across the snowy ground- Wyll closed his eyes against the memory. “It proves I turned Cartage 15’s own mining equipment against them, causing the entire crew to die under a ton of Bolidium.”
Zac turned a sympathetic look on him. “Hauher lied to you, Wyll. He and Berent used you. It’s not your fault.”
Wyll couldn’t hold back the bitter laugh that escaped him. “Do you honestly think that makes it any better?”
Zac looked away. “No, it doesn’t, does it?”
“That doesn’t matter right now. What matters is can we avoid the Chamber if Alazar dies?”
Zac’s fingers started drumming again. After a long moment, they slowed to a stop. “There’s only one way I think we can.”
Zac stared at him a long moment. His expression told Wyll nothing of what was about to come out of his mouth. “Myranda.”
Wyll frowned. “What about her?”
“Berent doesn’t know she’s with us.”
“Does he love her? I mean, really?”
Wyll gave it some thought. He’d never really gotten along with Berent, he was too arrogant and came off kind of controlling, but he tolerated him for his sister’s sake. But he always seemed to adore Myranda. “Yes, in his own controlling way, I believe he does.”
Zac smiled grimly. “That makes it even better really.”
“What are you thinking?”
“The entire NewVerse already thinks we kidnapped Meris, why wouldn’t they believe we’d kidnap Berent Gaehts’ wife?”
Wyll shook his head. “He wouldn’t, though. He knows I’d never let anything happen to Myranda.”
“No, you wouldn’t.” Zac’s expression became unreadable and Wyll went cold. Something shiny flicked out of Zac’s pocket and into his right hand. Wyll had only a second to react, nearly breaking his ankle as he threw himself off the stool to the floor, before Zac was on him. There was a brief struggle but then he felt the tiny pinprick of pain.
Zac watched Wyll as his body went rigid as the semi-paralytic took effect, despite his efforts to fight. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant.”
His hearing was going fuzzy, as if someone had stuffed cotton in his ears. Zac’s face was slowly greying out. His heartbeat slowed, but, so far, he could still feel it pumping. He was afraid he’d stop breathing altogether, but a shallow, slow stream of air kept his blood oxygenated.
He barely felt the knife slicing open his old wound in his side. He barely felt the blood leaking from his body.
But he did feel the fear and helplessness.
And the betrayal and rage.
Oh, yes, above all, he felt rage.
Chapter 5 Chapter 7