"That would be handy. Let me clean up a bit here, then we'll go see about borrowing something." Spence jumped, hitting and grabbing one body, then reaching to snag the other, all three of them spinning over to bump the wall at the edge of C tube. A quick look, no one in sight, the he towed the bodies to the airlock he'd hacked, and stowed them inside.
He turned back. Mona and Keri had jumped up. Mona was easing back from run A. She held up three fingers. Keri signaled all clear on B.
The three new women jumped toward her. Sarah pushed the kids that direction and attempted to jump and wound up floating. Spence tossed one end of his rope, she grabbed and was pulled in.
"I'm going to go up fast and check. All of you stick together, and pay attention behind you as well as in front ." Spence looped a strap around the glide bar and kicked off, a fast all fours up the side of the tube, the strap sliding along and keeping him close enough to scramble quickly up to the first dock. No one waiting, a quick swing of his hook to check for monofilaments.
A few minutes to attach his electronics to the airlock lock and he was in . . . to an empty ship. He tapped the power on, the air treatment and the engine warmup sequence. The women all floundered aboard.
"Now. Do any of your three know how to pilot a ship? No? Drat. Sarah? I've shown you the basics, but you shouldn't need them. But sit here in case you do. The rest of you? Door duty. Do you know the basic undocking procedures? From the outside, I'm going to unclamp the dock grips. If someone comes, you close and seal first the station airlock. Second get inside and close and seal the ship's inner airlock. Leave the outer open, so I can get in again."
He walked back to the pilot's station. "Sarah? These two side jets. One second is all you'll need to put a short distance between you and the dock. I'm going to go get Gerry. We'll go out through an airlock if you've moved off."
Her hands clenched. "Hurry!"
Spence released the clamps, stuck his head out—B tube was still empty.
The hub was still empty.
He pried the elevator doors open and headed down the shaft. "Haven't I done this part already?"
"Mayor Morgan. Stop right there." Gerald heard his voice going cold and quiet. "Threatening my family is a bad idea, and you'd best laugh and tell me you're joking, else I'm going to over-react badly."
He watched in the detached way he recognized as fight prep, as the mayor grinned nastily. "Boys? Grab him."
They must have considered him powerless, with no weapons in sight.
Gerald stood up and stepped away from the chair. The laser hit the first guard in the eye. The man dropped, convulsing.
The heel of Gerald’s hand connected with the second man’s chin, he grabbed the guard’s arm for a simple hip throw, adding in a twist and jerk that dislocated the man’s elbow. Gerald snatched the gun from his hand and rounded on the mayor . . . to see the panel close on his heels.
He applied the butt of the pistol to the second guard’s head and dropped him. A quick search of both men produced a second gun and spare mags, a security communicator each, and a knife.
Gerald took them all and unbolted the door.
Four guards, turning, guns coming up . . . he shot all four, the high speed bullets knocking them down, but from the yells they must have some sort of protective vests. Didn’t matter, he was past them and running for the front doors.
The guards there had rifles, they were too far away . . . Gerald veered and ran up the stairs, the solid baluster gave him cover as he gained height.
I can shoot down on them, but they’ll be moving to shoot up the stairs.
He didn’t stop at the head of the stairs. A window, damn they looked narrow . . . The roof? Or did the front facia go all the way to the floor above? Is there a hatch? How tough is the material?
He was running out of hallway, an emergency exit sign . . . he opened the door . . . metal stairs going up and down . . . noise below . . . he headed up . . . the crack of a gun echoed in the stairwell, then a crescendo of shots from below as the guards below let loose. Gerald bolted up the stairs, stumbled as his leg was hit . . . kept going . . . the stairs ended at another door.
No way to lock it . . . he checked doors along the hall. Third one opened and he slipped in, peered back at the stairway door.
“Gerald? Gerald, can you hear me?” A tinny voice from the watch laser.
“Spence? Get Sarah and the kids!”
“Already done, where are you?”
“Third floor of city hall, umm, the top floor.” He stopped to shoot the three men who popped out of the stairwell.
“Okay, I’ve got you on the tracker . . . Ah, if I put a hole in the ceiling six meters spinward from you, will you be all right?”
Gerald shot again. Glanced at the flimsy wall. “I’ll be fine.”
Two more shots then he scooted over to the flimsy desk and curled up behind it.
The pressure wave of the explosion hit him before his ears even registered the boom. The wall flew across the room and hit the desk. Gerald jumped up, vaulted over the desk and debris and into the next room as a ladder dropped down. He scurried up it, nearly collapsing at the sudden pain in his leg.
Adrenaline, don’t drop me now!
Forced himself up the last two rungs, was grabbed by a kaleidoscope mirage and hauled up erect.
“Run for the elevator, if you can.” The mirage fired down into the hole in the deck.
Gerald ran, sort of. Rapid footsteps behind him, the armed mirage caught up, was a step behind through the rotating doors, ran ahead to swing the gun around, then beat him through the second set of doors. At the elevator, the gun disappeared, the prybar popped the doors open . . .
“Up you go. Gravity gets lighter as you climb.”
Oh shit. “Right.”
Gerald spotted the ladder, to the side, grabbed it. Hopped over with his good leg. And started climbing.
The Spence mirage was right behind him. The elevator car dropping toward him.
“Just flatten against the ladder. There’s plenty of room.”
Gerald flattened the car slid past and he started up again. Glanced down at a scrape.
Spence was jamming something in the track.
Oh, excellent thinking. Gerald concentrated on climbing. Up with the right leg, stand on the left and up with the right again. And he was getting lighter, and hustled, mostly on arm power.
Four quick shots echoing around the shaft. Then he was at the top. Spence floated past him. Prybar, peek out.
“Good we beat them up here. C’mon.”
Gerald floated out, was grabbed, aimed and shoved.
“C? You docked at A18, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, things got a little unfriendly. Dee’s off in the greyhound, everyone else is in a different ship. They had to back out a little while ago, so you and I get to do this the hard way.”
The invisible man passed him in midair and grabbed a handhold, grabbed Gerald. Tapped at a number pad and shoved him into an airlock. There were two men inside, waiting for them. Gerald started to swing at the closest before the blood coated inside of his helmet registered.
“Helmet. I don’t have a helmet.”
Spence shoved his hood back. “We’ll borrow the other gentleman’s helmet. It’s a little clearer, and his gloves, and let me see your leg, pull that pant’s leg off . . . hmm, we’d better double layer that spot.”
Gerald fumbled the helmet on and started on the gloves, the cold goop left in them . . . was hopefully enough. Spence had a jerked the cylinder of skin suit off the second corpse’s leg and Gerald held out his foot and tried not to scream as Spence worked it up and covered the holes in his suit.
“Turn the helmet radio to three, receive only.” Spence pressed his own helmet closed.
Gerald fumbled with the chin switches for the radio, feeling the slow swelling of the skin suit, and watching Spence watching him for signs of distress. “I’m fine.”
Then the radio broke into a cacophony of yelling. Channel three . . . And suddenly he was hearing the mayor.
“Woman, you just sit right there while we fetch you, or you will learn the meaning of pain and humiliation. I am going to . . .”
“Oh you piece of dog shit.” Gerald hissed. The mayor kept ranting. Receive only . . .
Spence punched his arm and put a warning finger to his helmet. He produced rope and tied both corpses, and the Gerald to it before he clipped it to himself .
Spence triggered the airlock and leaned to touch helmets. “We may need them. Just float, and let me climb the tube.
Outside the airlock the voices faded a bit, static increased . . .
“What the hell?”
“You’ll see.” Spence towed them along, moving hand over hand along a small conduit on the outside of the main tube. Turning to look upward . . . outward whatever, before moving further out, and looking again.
Gerald took a look outward . . . there was a small ship out perhaps twice the radius of the station . . . or a large ship further out . . .
“Right. This will do nicely, go ahead and turn on the two way.”
Gerald chinned the switch. “Do nicely for what?”
“Gerry!” Sarah’s voice. “Are you all right? Where are you!”
“I’m . . . fine.” Why is Spence looking at that ship? Is Sarah out there? Sarah and the kids had better be out there!
“We’re on the way, I don’t think we’ll mention any specifics, yet.” Spence put in and grabbed a hand hold and pulled Gerald down to the tube. “This is the part you aren’t going to like. You are going to have to trust me.”
Gerald shuddered. “You’re going to jump, aren’t you. Are they on that ship?” He aborted a gesture as it made him rotate.
“Yes. Now pull our buddies around in front of us. You hold one I hold the other. Now bend your knees, I’ll push you down into contact. Good. I’ll say one, two three, jump, and we’ll both jump when I say jump.”
“Right.” Gerald held his squatting position as Spence pulled him down. Grabbed the bloody helmet corpse. Spence crouched, let go of the station and grabbed the other body “One, two, three, jump.”
They tumbled, falling. Not. Falling.
“Perfect.” Spence untied the first corpse and was moving his head, watching the ship.
He curled up . . . two feet on the corpse . . . kicked it away. Rammed Gerald and the other corpse.
Gerald swallowed. “Course correction?”
“Exactly, slowed our tumble too, that’ll make the next one easier.”
Gerald looked at the ship. Watched it move relative to the stars beyond it.
Spence was untying the second body. Waiting and watching . . . this time the body just got shoved with his arms, up and to the left.
Gerald watched the ship . . . “They can come and get us, right?”“Tsk. So little trust in my spatial judgement.