Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto, Margaret Morgan, Billy Nichols
Kim and Morgan were sitting at a table in a long room in a nondescript building. It didn’t appear to be a holding cell, but there were two MarSec officers flanking the only door, in addition to Billy Nichols who had been trying to carry on a normal conversation with Morgan. For her part, Morgan was sitting with her arms crossed, answering shortly and rudely. Kim held herself still and watched, but the hands that were folded in her lap were white-knuckled.
Nichols tapped his fingers on the table while he talked. “… But when they started bombing….” He shrugged, as if that explained everything.
“Yeah, well, semper fi,” Morgan growled sarcastically.
Nichols shook his head at her. This had been going on for a while. “Heard your baby cousin went Constitutionalist, too.”
Her jaw clenched. “Yeah? So?”
“No reason. Didn’t know if you would’ve heard.”
“Look, scug,” Morgan snarled. “If you have a point, make it, or let us go.”
Nichols leaned back, studying her. “One of my people saw you an hour ago accessing a public terminal. Ogawa — do you remember him from the Independence?”
She shook her head at the unfamiliar name.
“Well, he remembered you, or enough to call me. So I had to ask myself — what is someone wanted by EarthDome doing back in-system.”
“What?” she whispered in disbelief.
“Oh, yeah, there’s price on your head. Something about un-Earth activities. Came from MiniPax, ‘course.” He leaned toward her. “Have you started jayhawking?”
“Huh? I’m no terrorist.”
“Didn’t say you were. That’s not what I meant. I know you, Morgan. What are you doing here?”
“Get rid of the goons, and then we’ll see.”
Glancing at the officers, he jerked his head. Silently they left. “All right. So?”
“Billy, do you trust me?” No insults, no anger.
“Yes, I’m involved in an underground. They recruited me a few months ago for my, ah, special skills.”
Nichols grinned. “Good! You were wasted jobbing around.”
“Is there anything you don’t hear?”
“Not much. Is that why you’re here?”
“Yes, and it’s why you have to let us go. We’re here on important business. It has to get done.”
“Right.” He looked at their face for a moment. “What do you need?”
“Just let us go and we’ll call it square.”
He skidded back in his chair and got up, heading for the door. “Be right back.”
Morgan and Kim stared at each other.
“I hope you know what you are doing,” Kim whispered.
“He’s four-o. He’s all right,” Morgan said, but she sounded a bit dubious.
After what seemed like an eternity (but was probably only about ten minutes) he came back and handed Morgan a data crystal. “This is the berth number and start up codes for a shuttle that won’t be missed for a bit. It’s also got my direct link code if you need anything else. Be careful and good luck.”
He shrugged. “I had heard some stories a few months ago about you I wasn’t liking the sound of. I had to make sure what you were doing here.”
Morgan exhaled meditatively. “I know. I’m not proud of some of the things I did, and how often I didn’t ask what was going on.”
“Right. Now git. Do your job.” He showed them the door and pointed them in the direction out. “Morgan, when this is all over, swing back through.”
“No promises. But… we’ll see.”
He nodded, then tipped an imaginary cap a Kim. “Nice meeting you… Doctor.” He disappeared back into the room.
“He knew who I was?” Kim asked.
“Probably for as long as we’ve been here. C’mon.”
“Margaret, are you sure he is on the level?” Kim asked ten minutes later, as they are walking towards the main plaza again.
Morgan sighs irritably. “I already said so.”
“Then why are we being followed. He isn’t wearing a uniform, but he walks like one.”
Morgan chances a glance back as they round a corner. “He wouldn’t.”
“Then he’s got a traitor on his hands. We’ve got to take care of him.” Kim caught Morgan’s glance and hastily added, “Not like that.” Kim suddenly grinned wickedly. “Actually, I think I have a good idea to get him out of our hair as well as your friend’s until we are gone.”
Morgan’s eyebrows rose skeptically, but she followed Kim without comment to a turbo lift. Inside Kim punches Red Sector and they descended into the bowels of Mars.
“You aren’t thinking to . . . you are aren’t you?” Morgan bit her lip.
“Old, but dependable.” Kim set down her medkit and took out a hypo. “When he gets out of the lift after us, you lure him forward. When he follows, I’ll get him from behind. Then we’ll show him to his room for the night.”
Kim was waiting in the shadows of Red Sector when the uniformed officer came out of the lift. He spotted Morgan near the end of the empty corridor and rushed forward. In an instant Kim was behind him and the dispenser emptied into his neck with a hiss. He tried to turn and see his attacker as he drops, but Kim covered his eyes and eased him down on to his knees. Morgan reappeared and dashed up. Kim pocketed the hypo and then with Morgan’s help lifted him up with one arm around each of their shoulders.
They were barely given a glance as they dragged him through the corridors of red sector. Muscles protesting, they finally came to hotel that blatantly rents rooms by the hour. The man at the front desk didn’t even look up as they passed, and with the officer’s card they charged a room for seven hours. They dumped him on the rumpled bed.
“The shot I gave him will last 8 or 9 hours, but we’ll want him to be found here. We better take his shoes and pants off,” Kim said and together they dragged off the clothes. Done, Kim is about to slip the man’s identicard back into his pants but Morgan asked to see it first.
After a long moment Morgan says, “It’s fake.”
“Just what I said. He is military, but he’s not this military. Damn, I need to tell Billy.”
“Not now. We’ve got 7 hours, maybe less if this guy has friends here looking for us. We have to–”
“Billy may have even less time if they find out he’s helping us. Come on.”
They crept out of the hotel and to another lift. Just as they were about to step into the lift, a sullen red flashed in the shadows.
Copyright (c) 1996 Leslie McBride and Alida Saxon. All rights reserved.