Steel Instinct

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Chapter 8

“I wait here,” Frederik says to Kalama.

“Hopefully this won’t take too long...” Kalama says.

“Yeah,” calls Frederik, “Good luck!”

Kalama slowly reaches a leg down to get off of the motorcycle. Frederik takes her hand to help steady her. She nods a “thanks” to him and heads to the door of the house. Kalama takes a deep breath and flings the door open.

“Oh, hello,” Tacoma says.

“Tacoma...? What are you doing here? Were you also kidnapped?” Kalama asks, surprised.

“You could say that... Come in. Abby is here,” Tacoma says.

“Abby!” Kalama cries out.

Kalama rushes into the house. Tacoma shuts the door. Kalama looks around frantically. Tacoma approaches her.

“Where is Abby?!” Kalama asks.

“Heh heh heh... she’s here, alright...?” Tacoma says.

Tacoma throws a punch without warning. Kalama, who was not expecting this sudden turn around, gets hit. Kalama shouts in surprise. She quickly retaliates.

“YOU LIED!” Kalama yells, “HOW DARE YOU!”

“Hey, not my fault you are dumb...” Tacoma says, narrowly dodging the punch.

Kalama hits with her other fist, striking Tacoma’s right cheek. Tacoma strikes Kalama’s left shoulder in response. Kalama stumbles slightly, but continues fighting again within moments. As Tacoma is about to do an overhead strike, Kalama hits him in the stomach.

Tacoma ends up crumpling in half. The force of the punch causes him to vomit all over the floor behind them. He moans in pain. Kalama, not wanting to slip in puke, grabs Tacoma forcefully and pushes him to the other side of the room to continue the fight.

“You should be ashamed of yourself! Abby absolutely adored you! And what do you do?! You betray her and lock her up here!” Kalama yells.

“I betrayed nobody! Abby is alright as long as you stop beating me up!” Tacoma moans, still in pain from the gut punch.

“LIAR!” yells Kalama.

Tacoma tries again to hit Kalama over the head. Kalama grabs his arms and holds them in place. Tacoma groans, struggling against her. Kalama kicks him a few times with her knee while still holding his arms up.

“Ya know… I’ll just keep fighting...” Tacoma says, “No matter what you throw at me!”

“Oh yeah?!” asks Kalama, “How about this?!”

Kalama shoves Tacoma to the ground. Tacoma cries out in pain again. Kalama jumps on him, pinning him to the ground. Abby begins regaining consciousness at that moment.

“I-impossible!” wails Tacoma, struggling underneath Kalama, “You’re just a girl! I’m highly trained! HIGHLY TRAINED, YOU HEAR?!”

Kalama wraps an arm around his neck. Tacoma whimpers and struggles some more. Abby sits up straight and stares at the two. Tacoma gasps, turning blue.

“KALAMA!” cries Abby, “LET HIM GO!”

“Abby!” Kalama exclaims, “You’re alive!”

“O-of course I am! N-now let him go!” Abby says, tearing up.

As Kalama releases Tacoma from her grasp, Ms. Gray sneaks up on her. Abby gasps and tries to alert Kalama. Ms. Gray grabs Kalama before she can even realize she is in danger. Kalama struggles, but Ms. Gray manages to knock her out.

“See? Tacoma, it’s not that hard!” Ms. Gray says.

Tacoma is still trying to catch his breath. Abby gets up off of the couch and runs over there, nearly tripping over her own feet. Ms. Gray shoves her roughly aside. Ms. Gray then grabs a chair and ties Kalama to it.

“P-please!” cries Abby, “You’ve gotta stop!”

“She’ll come around later...” Ms. Gray says, “And then she’ll finally give us what we want!”

“This has... been going... on too... long...” Tacoma says between gasps for air.

“Tacoma, I’d have thought you’d handle her better. She’s just a tiny little lady!” Ms. Gray says.

“She’s strong,” Tacoma says.

Ms. Gray then notices the empty wine bottle. Tacoma bites his lip nervously. Ms. Gray stoops and picks up the bottle, examining it. She then turns and stares angrily at Tacoma.

“Ah! So now I see! You got into my wine collection!” Ms. Gray cries out, “I told you not to touch it!”

“I... I... Uh...” Tacoma says and gulps nervously.

“I d-drank it,” Abby says, still on the ground.

“YOU!” snaps Ms. Gray, turning to look at Abby.

“Abby...” Tacoma says with a sigh.

“T-Tacoma... Tacoma’s innocent,” Abby says.

“Why did you let her drink my wine?!” asks Ms. Gray.

“Honestly...?” Tacoma says, shrugging, “I... I don’t know...”

“And if she’s the one who drank it all, why do you seem a little off?” Ms. Gray asks.

“Heh heh...” Tacoma says.

“My stomach hurts...” Abby moans.

“Yeah, I wonder why?!” Ms. Gray says sarcastically.

“’Scuse me...” Frederik calls from the doorway, “Bathroom?”

Ms. Gray pulls a gun out and points it at Frederik’s head. Frederik slowly backs away and closes the door. Abby stares in confusion. Ms. Gray puts her gun away.

“You know what? I’m just going to tie Abby up as well,” Ms. Gray says to Tacoma, “That’ll make things more interesting.”

“Why? She’s not doing anything...” Tacoma says.

“She really should have been kept tied up this whole time!” Ms. Gray replies.

“I can’t g-get up... Help...” Abby moans.

Ms. Gray grabs Abby forcefully by the arm. Abby wails in pain, but doesn’t resist. Ms. Gray then ties her hands and feet to a chair. Tacoma watches helplessly, unable to interfere.

“There! Much better!” announces Ms. Gray.

“T-Tacoma...?” Abby calls, tilting her head slightly to the side.

“Shut up, brat!” yells Tacoma, raising his hand to slap Abby across the face.

Abby flinches and whimpers. Tacoma hesitates. Ms. Gray watches with great interest. Tacoma lowers his hand and turns away, not wanting to look at Ms. Gray or Abby.

“Why did you hesitate?!” yells Ms. Gray, and then she slaps Abby for Tacoma, “I thought I trained you!”

“OWWW!” wails Abby.

“...I’m sorry... I failed you...” Tacoma says, “You deserve better...”

“You SHOULD be ashamed of yourself, young man! Ugh, you really are nothing but a small boy!” Ms. Gray says, “I’ve got to do EVERYTHING myself!”

“I am weak... I am insignificant...” Tacoma says, dropping to his knees.

“Mhm, and?” Ms. Gray prompts.

“I should die,” Tacoma says.

“No! N-no, Tacoma!” wails Abby, “I love you!”

“Love is not part of my job...” Tacoma says.

“Well, I’m glad you are well aware. I will spare you this time,” Ms. Gray says.

“Thank you... I do not deserve it...” Tacoma says.

A few minutes later, a table is set up in front of the chair Kalama is tied to. On the table is the hacking laptop. Tacoma puts a cloth of smelling salts to Kalama’s nose. Kalama begins to stir within seconds.

“Ughhh... My head...” Kalama moans.

“Flaming Ice,” Ms. Gray says, sternly.

Tacoma takes the cloth away. Kalama blinks in confusion. She stares at the laptop for a moment. Kalama then tries to stand up, but finds she has been tied to the chair.

“Why am I tied to a chair...?” Kalama questions, “What was I doing...?”

“Flaming Ice, look at me a moment,” Ms. Gray commands.

“You better look,” Tacoma prompts.

Kalama looks at Tacoma. Tacoma points to Ms. Gray. Kalama gets startled and ends up toppling the chair she is sitting in. Quickly, Tacoma sets the chair back up.

“LINDA GRAY!” Kalama shouts, suddenly remembering why she is there.

“I’m giving you one last chance, Ms. Ijsbrand. Don’t make me kill you,” Ms. Gray threatens, pulling out her gun, “I NEED you to hack a few systems for me.”

Kalama looks to her other side. Abby is still tied up. Abby glances helplessly at her big sister. Kalama then turns her head to look at Ms. Gray again.

“Let Abby go,” Kalama says.

“Oh, I see... You need some more motivation. Tacoma, fetch my other gun,” Ms. Gray commands.

“Yes, ma’am!” says Tacoma.

Tacoma runs off. He returns with another handgun. Ms. Gray points to Abby’s head. Tacoma, with shaking hands, turns his gun to Abby’s head. Kalama struggles.

“Well? Hack the system or I’ll kill you AND your precious sister!” Ms. Gray says with an evil snicker.

“N-no!” wails Kalama, “You can kill me, but please! You have to spare Abby!”

That isn’t the deal, Ms. Ijsbrand. You are trying my patience!” Ms. Gray says, “You either help or she dies!”

“Fine,” says Kalama, “You’ve got me. It seems I have no other choice as there is no other way I can persuade you...”

“Good... Good... Be a darling and clear my negative records and reviews... I can’t have the world thinking I’m some sort of monster or whatever!” Ms. Gray says.

As Kalama begins hacking, Ms. Gray continues holding her at gun point just to make sure. Kalama is very skillful at hacking. She begins locating the negative reports right away. With a seemingly easy set of key presses, the reviews begin to disappear.

“They won’t just be deleted. Any instance of them in the archival will also be eliminated. Nobody will ever find them again. In fact, they’ll start to think they imagined it,” Kalama explains.

“Good!” Ms. Gray says, “Now hurry up! I don’t have all day!”

“Yes, ma’am,” Kalama says.

Kalama works as fast and efficiently as she can. Before even twenty minutes can pass, all the negative reviews are gone. Kalama then deletes the backups in the archival. She then reaches the police records and attempts to clear them the same way.

“Huh...? It’s not working... The police files won’t delete...” Kalama says, trying a different method.

Ms. Gray frowns. She puts the gun closer to Kalama’s head. Kalama looks her in the eyes. The fear and sorrow is very evident in her eyes.

“Linda Gray... I cannot delete the police files. It is impossible... But... I can transfer them,” Kalama says.

“How does that work...?” Ms. Gray asks.

“Somebody has to take the blame...” Kalama says, “But I can do it for you... Just please, spare Abby!”

“Well, if you can transfer them...” Ms. Gray says, lowering her gun, “I would greatly appreciate it.”

“I can and I will,” Kalama says, taking a deep breath.

Kalama begins the process of transferring all the police records. She removes them from Ms. Gray’s records, rendering her innocent. Then, the files are placed onto someone else’s record. Ms. Gray waves for Tacoma to put down his gun.

“It is finished,” Kalama says, “Abby...”

Tacoma unties Abby. He removes he muffler from her mouth. Then, he moves over and unties Kalama. Kalama hugs Abby tightly.

“K-Kalama!” says Abby, crying on her sister, I thought... I thought I’d n-never see you again!”

“I’m so, so sorry, Abby...” Kalama says, “Please... Promise me you’ll be good...”

“W-what do you m-mean...?” Abby asks, looking her sister in the eyes, “We...we’re going h-home now, aren’t we...?”

Kalama hugs Abby again without a word. Ms. Gray and Tacoma watch as Kalama and Abby head towards the door. Abby is leaning against Kalama for support as the effects of the alcohol she consumed haven’t worn off yet. Once they make it to the door, Ms. Gray stops them.

“Ms. Ijsbrand, who did you transfer my records to...?” Ms. Gray asks, “I’d certainly hate to be that poor unsuspecting soul.”

“Ms. Gray. Don’t worry about it,” Kalama says with a little sad smile, “But you better stay out of trouble if you want to keep the records clean.”

Kalama and Abby step out of the house. Frederik is still waiting with his motorcycle. Only moments later, the police arrive. Kalama gently hands Abby to Frederik.

“Ms. Ijsbrand. Is Ms. Gray inside?” one of the officers inquires.

“Why, yes, yes she is. Why do you ask?” Kalama asks.

“We’ve come to take her away to jail, of course!” the officer says.

Kalama shakes her head and says, “Perhaps you’ll want to look at her records again?

“Um... Okay...?” the officer says.

He goes back to his car. He checks out Ms. Gray’s profile, only to find that it is blank. Confused, the officer refreshes a few times before looking at Kalama. He glances at the screen one more time.

“Impossible... The records are clean!” the officer says.

“Huh...? Did you double check before leaving that we were here for Ms. Gray?” another officer asks.

“I thought I did, but there is nothing here?” the first officer says.

The other officers all check on their own devices. Of course, though, none of them can find any fault. The officers talk amongst themselves. The first officer returns to his main page and finds a record worth checking out.

“Wait a second! The records WERE here! I just read the WRONG name!” the officer says.

“Who is it?” another officer asks.

“Why! Kalama Ijsbrand!” the first officer exclaims.

“W-What?!” wails Abby, “No! Kalama is innocent!”

“Shh... It’s okay, Abby...” Kalama says, “I knew this was coming.”

Kalama sets her pistol on the ground. She raises her hands into the air. The officers are still confused, but they go over the Miranda anyways. Then, they handcuff Kalama.

“You guys okay?” another officer asks Abby and Frederik.

“N-no...” Abby says, trembling, “M-my sister...”

“Gee an’ all this time ‘ere I though’ Kalama was inn’cent,” Frederik says, looking extremely disappointed, “Ya know? I kinda loved that woman...”

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