Strings of Retaliation – 11b – Poker

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The biotech consultant moved at a brisk pace, unwinding wires and plugging patches to Saskia’s convulsing chest. One of the guards grabbed my shoulder and pulled. My opposite elbow met his nose. He stepped away, and another one took his place but not before I pulled my sidearm and aimed at Gabriel. Unfortunately, the newcomer had a gun too.
“Someone better start talking,” I growled.
I expected Gabriel to answer and attempt to calm me, but all he said was: “I don’t know anything.”
“Get out of the van,” the guard barked.
“Not likely.” That answered both Gabriel and the guard’s affirmation.
“Someone needs to hold her down,” the biotech consultant said.
I wasn’t about to lower my weapon. “Gabriel.”
Of all the people present, I distrusted him less. I moved back so he could pass between me and the guard, and reach Saskia. My aim never left his head as he grabbed my SSW.
“Hold her head straight.” The consultant pulled a long needle out of its casing and unwound the wire attached to one of its ends.
Gabriel placed his knees Saskia’s shoulders, cradling her head between his thighs, and steadied it further with his hands. The consultant buried his wired needle in Saskia’s tear duct. The portable hologram in his briefcase lit up and projected what must be Saskia’s brain. A constellation of white dots populated it, just like mine used to be.
“Get out of the van,” the guard repeated. “We’d rather not risk two assets at once.”
I chuckled. “Is that why you point a gun at my head?”
The guard groaned and lowered his gun to his side. “Get out of the van.”
Saskia’s convulsions showed no sign of receding, though the biotech consultant frantically moved between checking the hologram and readjusting the position of the needle in her brain.
And Gabriel held her head. He didn’t talk to me, try to explain or take charge of the situation. He just held Saskia’s head.
I shifted my aim to the guard. “Talk.”
For a moment, there was no sound but Saskia’s ominous banging and moaning. With my reputation of the girl who might snap —Thanks, Gabriel!—, my chances of gathering information at gun point was pretty good.
“Lor, you have to move,” Vexx said through my music chip. “I can’t distract Gail-Male much longer.”
Bye bye leverage if I blow my cover. The idea of simplifying my life with a good old shootout was tempting.
“Don’t. Please.” Vexx answered to the thought I hadn’t wished to share. “It won’t help.”
I shot the guard’s gun, sending it flying out of his hand. The others moved in closer to aim at me. I didn’t budge. “This is your last warning. Answers. Now.”
The guard’s jaw tightened. “You went haywire. New models were recalled. Failsafe were installed. Now move.”
“I’m sending a transport pod your way,” Vexx said.
I inched toward the van’s door and stopped. “More.”
The guard clicked his tongue. “She must have missed a check-in. Some model go for a killing spree. Others shut down. For your safety, please move.”
“Lor…” Vexx stretched the syllable for all it was worth.
“Step away from the computer.” Vexx’s microphone relayed the unidentified voice. Eliot must have sent people to find him.
“Let me make sure she doesn’t blow her cover first,” Vexx retorted.
I stepped out of the van as if I conceded some ground to the guard. “Can you save her?”
“Would have been easier if we had gotten to the lab,” the consultant accused without leaving his work.
“You would have if some people didn’t keep me in the dark.”
Gabriel didn’t even lift his eyes to look at me. The small crease between his brows was back.
“Or if you followed orders,” the guard said.
A transport pod veered onto the street from one of the plants that didn’t belong to Merrilyn. I could park it where I took the first one and no one would link the theft of a pod miles away from the bunker with my nighttime sprint.
“My ride is here,” I walked past the group of guards who tightened their cover of the van’s door. At this point, it seemed unlikely Saskia was the “killing spree” type.
I holstered my gun and jumped on the pod to ride back to the bunker. This wasn’t over. All the people present knew it. No need for the cliché closing word.
“You’ll need to hurry up. Gail-Male will get suspicious if your tracker keeps purposefully going away from him.”
I know Vexx.
I pushed aside all the information I had just learned, all the inconsistencies of the recent event, and all rage. I would have to go back to this mess later. For now, all my focus went to driving as fast as the pod would go without crashing. Vexx guided me to the corner of the plant where my tracker said I was.
“I’ll take the pod to the parking. Just run.”
I started jogging.
“Turning off the fake tracking and camera data.”
Back on the MerriTech map.
“Move away,” the unidentified voice repeated.
“Lor,” Vexx added. “Hang in there.”
There was an exclamation, and then the line went dead. I threw the worry on top of the existing pile of dirty laundry I would choke Gabriel with.
“Miss Beyer!” Gail-Male’s voice came from the alleyway on my right.
I jogged on the spot and waited for him to catch up with me. Luckily, I had time to break a sweat and shorten my breath.

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About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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