It was worse than she’d feared. Denver had more wires and tubes of pumping fluid running through him than her starship engine. But there was no time to be cautious; a whole legion would be descending from their orbital dropships on the next pass. Whatever Phia was going to do, she had to be gone before then.
The wires all disappeared beneath his skin and she didn’t see any connectors. Yanking them out seemed like it would leave lasting damage—assuming he survived. If she hadn’t come at all, Denver would be as good as dead anyway, so she may as well be bold. She flicked out a tactical knife and started cutting.
The tubes were no different from the wires, but after the first one she sliced sprayed unused coolant in her face she made sure to leave long enough tails to drain safely. She was lucky she hadn’t scalded her face off. On assignments like this one, there was rarely success without a little luck.
And a lot of violence.
She hoped today she would only need the luck.
Denver was starting to come to, but he had all the discernment of a drunk nine-year-old. She threw his arm over her shoulder and got him walking toward the auxiliary hanger. He mumbled at intervals, but he wasn’t making a hell of a lot of sense. Even so, it was encouraging. At least he was still alive.
It wasn’t until they were on the ship and she was strapping him in that he got his message across. “They put…” he said. “Inside me. Anti. Matter bomb. Can’t. Leave…”
Well, fuck. She’d thought the whole lot of them were just plain evil. But now she wondered if things were simpler. Maybe they were completely insane. Oh well, she’d tried.
It was about to get violent.
Phia left Denver strapped in on her ship—grabbing two submachine guns with graviton rounds from the locker on her way out—and went stalking through the facility. Whoever had done this was still here. Had to be. First she’d make an example of them. Then she’d make someone else undo it.
Time was against her, so she dropped the stealth routine for a more direct approach. She followed the signs to the entrance of the main lab and pulled a fire alarm. Probably a lot of munitions at an outpost like this. A fire was sure to catch everyone’s attention. She waited outside the door and counted to ten, giving the mad scientists inside time to panic, remember their training, and prepare to act. And right then, when they thought they’d regained control…
Phia kicked the door open and fired dozens of rounds into the ceiling. Lights flashed. Alarms blared. Particles rained down. It was chaos. Then she found the oldest white guy in the room and blew him away. The graviton rounds turned him to bubbles and vapor in an instant.
“Who’s the next most senior ranking doctor left?”
Eyes flicked in unison, just briefly, to a surprisingly young-looking man with his gloved fingers literally pulling at his thick hair in fright. She fired into the ceiling again, just to keep him from thinking too much. “With me.”
He was too dumbfounded to do anything but comply, and she got him back to her ship even faster than she’d recovered Denver. The ship launched itself at her vocal command, and Phia led the young doctor to where Denver was strapped in. She’d only been gone a few minutes—not too bad. Hopefully that luck wasn’t quite tapped out yet.
The doctor’s face softened like warming butter. “Stop the ship! We can’t leave; he has an antimatter—”
“I know what he has.” Phia fell onto her own crash couch, dropping her weapons like heavy garbage and lighting a cigarette. “Either he makes it,” she said, and paused to take a drag, “or none of us do.” She exhaled smoke. “Get to work.”