Our link pulled at me, and I followed it. These Elites didn’t have their cells set up like the scientists and doctors had. No constant surveillance, just guards.
Guards who didn’t see me coming before I took them out. Deke would be proud. The last one had managed to draw a weapon on me, so I’d been forced to use a knife on him. If he was valuable, they could regrow the tendons.
If not… it was him or me. And nothing was going to keep me from Captain.
Hopefully Anyas was doing his job because I needed Danie and Freska in place soon. He was going to keep the others close, making sure he didn’t lose the biggest threat he had over the other Elites. My stomach churned as I crept along, the weapon I’d stolen at the ready. He’d been a superb actor—at times too good—and it was hard to know whether or not we could trust him.
Then again, being welcomed back into the fold of the ones who betrayed him didn’t seem like a good idea to me. Bastards exiled him once, no telling how quick they’d do it again once he’d given up his bargaining chips. And Anyas was many things, but stupid wasn’t one of them.
I’d kept my eyes down on the trip to the cells, but I’d learned a long time ago to assess my surroundings and learn the smallest details without being noticed. As a spy or assassin, covert had been drilled into me.
So I knew I was running out of corridors before I’d return to the main building. I needed to find them, but I couldn’t go rushing out where I’d quickly be surrounded. The other Elites knew about me and Danie’s skills. They probably had information on the rest of the crew, but Freska’s abilities were a secret that only those truly loyal to Captain had been privy to.
The others knew she was a tech mastermind.
They didn’t know she could literally bond with inorganic technology and become a part of it, and let it become a part of her. Claimed as spoils of his capture, Anyas had brought us in his ship, but had ours had “limped along at its pathetic pace”.
Which meant it should be overhead… Right. About. Now. I ducked into an alcove when the lights flickered, crouching down and leaning against the wall to blend into the shapes of the decorations as best I could.
Yep. Right on time. Relief sent a fine tremor through my hands. Anyas hadn’t betrayed us. He’d gotten Freska to a place where she could connect with the ship’s A.I. And that A.I. was now sharing with the planetary A.I.s just what type of joy she could bring them.
A glimpse of humanity. Love. Appreciation. Need.
I’d almost had to look away from Freska when she spoke of it because what she felt for metal and circuits felt more intimate than I was comfortable with. My face had been on fire. Danie had watched her with rapt eyes, his chest rising and falling and rapidly.
And then I had looked away.
But whatever the A.I.s felt from her, they returned it tenfold, giving her free reign through their systems. Booted feet pounded by, and I froze, barely daring to breathe. They’d never discover her, but I was still vulnerable.
The lights flickered again, and then a voice whispered from a screen in the wall. A speaker?
“Yes,” I whispered.
“Good, it’s Freska. The sensors picked you up. You’re down five levels and across the compound from us.”
Who else was it going to be? I suppressed a snort. “Of course I am. You got the lights? Doors?”
“Yes. I’m tracking you, so I’ll try to divert others away. Captain Querry says to be careful. Make your way here quick, Anyas says. Things—” She broke off, and I tensed. Someone was coming, and they weren’t stomping like a guard. This was different.
Soft footsteps crept quietly down the hall closer, and I made a snap decision. Jumping out, I locked onto the person and flipped them to the ground. I covered their mouth with one hand, using my body to hold their arms to their sides and my weight to keep them pinned. With the other, I pinched the blood flow at the neck until they went limp.
Blinking rapidly, I stared, crinkling my forehead. It was a woman, a young one, barely into adulthood. Maybe a year or two older than me. An Elite. What the hell was she doing down here? I was glad I didn’t use the stunner on her; knocking her unconscious was kinder.
But she’d wake up faster.
I could leave her or take her. Making a snap decision, I scooped up her body and tucked her willowy body over my shoulder. I awkwardly leaned into the alcove. “Freska? Get the lights and doors. Now.”
The lights went out.
Hustling, I followed the directions Anyas had been able to provide us, always tracking toward the bond that I had with Captain. It was awkward with the Elite in my arms, she was a tall girl, but there was something strange going on here. My brain raced as my body moved just as quickly.
Why was an Elite female heading into the cells?
Why was an Elite female unescorted at all?
Was she the reason for the troop of guards that had blasted past or had they discovered the missing guard I put in a cell? Were we discovered another way?
Freska would have some answers about the guards movements, and hopefully she or Anyas would have some information about the girl too.
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