Characters: Dr. Kim Matsumoto, Margaret Morgan

 Just as they were about to step into the lift, a sullen red flashed in the shadows.

The glow catches Morgan’s eye. “Lawr!” she shouts even as she grabs Kim’s sleeve and drags, making her duck. They dive into the lift. “Red Two!”

The lift complies obediently, shutting its doors.

“Red Two?” Kim asks. “Are you nuts?”

“They won’t expect us to go up. This will give us a couple of minutes.”

She stands and dusts herself off angrily. “And how did you know it wasn’t the Captain?”

“Gut instinct. Then this confirmed it.” She moves her left arm aside. Her jacket is smoking a little. “Silencer.”

“What? Are you all right?”

“Yes, but I think I’m going to need a new EVA suit.” Nonetheless, she lets Kim help her up.

“Red Two,” the computer chimes and the doors open to the sight of a riot in progress.

“Now this is Mars.” Kim glances at Morgan and takes up the lead.”We’ll lose any pursuit in this mess and take to the service tubes.” They duck and dash through the melee. MarSec is out in force, but not in control. There are as many shocksticks and ppg’s now in the hands of the civilians as the security. Morgan steps over the body of one security officer and starts as she recognizes the woman.

“Dead. Damn.” Morgan mutters, the words lost in the din. Kim stops and glances back at the body, surprised and depressed by her own lack of reaction.

“I hate this war,” she says to herself and then to Morgan, “Come on. Can’t be helped, but maybe your friend Billy could use some.” She points to the small cluster of MarSec at the other end of the hall.

Morgan concentrates a second. “Damn and double damn. Based on where I think the fighter came down, the Captain and Validenn should be here already. Assuming…. We’re running out of time. But so is Billy.” She growls at herself, at the situation. “Get out of the way and stay put. Give me ten minutes, then get out of here.”

Kim starts to argue.

Now,” she reiterates, using her TI’s voice, then she takes off through the crowd.

Kim tucks herself into a corner and waits. Her jaw begins to ache with clenched force of her rage. How many times had she been forced by others and herself to hide and wait things out? An angry buzz, a strangled echo of the rioters’ voices, grows in the back of her mind and then abruptly dies, shocked out of her trance by a body hitting the deck in front of her. Shakily she reaches forward and takes the corpse’s PPG out of its unresisting grip. She checks the watch at her wrist.

Nine minutes already. Where the hell is Margaret?

Twenty minutes later, Kim realizes someone is coming. Belatedly, she recognizes the figure as Morgan. She has rolled her jacket sleeves up and tucked her hair under a hat. She looks pale and angry as she tosses a PPG to Kim and indicates for her to follow.

Kim rises and tosses it back, her expression hard and chill. “Keep it. I already have one, and you’re the weapon’s expert,” Kim snaps. She settles the strap of her pack and the medkit over her shoulder more comfortably and motions with a jerk of her chin for Margaret to lead the way.

Morgan leads them down a side corridor and, after a quick glance around to make sure no one was watching, into a service passage.

Kim is still fuming when Morgan stops suddenly. Most of the former EF officer’s anger has burned away in their flight, but she is even paler. She turns aside and leans heavily on a packing crate. “We are almost to the outside exit for Gray Sector, the side closest to where the fighter went down. And I know how to get to the shuttle from here. Damn Billy and the ‘Fury he flew in on.” She shakes her head. “Listen, I’m sorry for making you stay behind earlier.” She keeps talking even though Kim starts to protest. “No, I have to. One could make it through easier than two, and you’re not expendable. Whizo’s are. It’s in the job description, and the training.” She clears her throat. “The entrance is straight through that way –” and she points “– and the first right.”

“But… why?”

“As I said, I’m expendable.”

No one is expendable,” Kim snarls with a ferocity that knifes into the throbbing of Morgan’s skull. The grip that takes hold of Morgan’s arm is almost as sharp. Two spots of furious colour spring up on Morgan’s pale cheeks, but Kim glares back undaunted. “One is easier than two, but who the hell are you to tell me to take the easy way out? And I am not letting you take it either.” Kim begins to half-drag, half-support Morgan down the tunnel. The sounds of the riot dims the farther they go, but never quite disappears.

Suddenly Kim grins, teeth bared. “It has gone outside. Full scale revolution. And they just handed us our solution to everything. What do you think the Captain and Validenn would do when they see all the commotion out on the ship pads? We get ourselves a ship and they will come to us!”



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