The week passed with excruciating slowness. They didn’t allow me to leave, citing my recent brush with the law as reason. They believed I might be on a watch list. I believed they probably were too, but obeyed their rules all the same. I spent the bulk of my time becoming well acquainted with the ceiling above my bed. Every evening they came back with new supplies for the rescue, cryo chambers, medicine, weapons, and finally on the last night, a government issue ship.
“But where?” I sputtered, looking over the ship. It looked as pristine as any I had ever seen.
“You like that?” Thomas laughed at my expression. “They just drop those off in the wreak yards. Course we had to fix her up a bit. Shiny though ain’t she?”
“Yes, quite.” I nodded. “You are all very good at your jobs.”
“We leave tomorrow for your sister. Ready for big time crime?”
“Not at all.” I managed a smile.
“No one ever is.” Thomas grinned. “You’re on the side of right, it that makes you feel any better. They’re the shady ones.”
“They’ll kill us the same if we’re caught,” I pointed out.
“Always has to be a practical one in the group.” Thomas laughed. “Way my plan goes, we don’t get caught.”
It sounded like a good plan, simple. Easy in and out. Of course I knew that was never going to be the fact, but I had allowed myself to believe it in order to not go insane in the waiting. As the school came into view and we flew low over the planet, my stomach tied in knots of fear. I straighten the suit they have given me. It is that of a government inspector. Mine is to be the key role in River’s rescue. I will stride straight into that school and ask to be taken to her. My fingers itch where they have fused the fingerprints of a true inspector to my fingers. I don’t ask how they got the prints.
“You’ve memorized the maps?” Adam asked from the seat next to me.
“Yes.” The word barely made a sound and I cleared my throat. “The layout should not be a problem.”
“Now, you understand the weapon, correct?” Thomas leaned around from the front.
“After you get your sister, strip to the facilities uniform. Everything goes smooth, and you can walk her to the getaway point easy as pie. We’ll be monitoring you, show up quick as you’re ready.”
“Thank you.” I nodded as we lower to the front landing strip. Two guards approached the craft guns raised. Thomas lifts his hands with a grin, and shoves open the door.
“Official inspection.” He leaned out to hand them forged paperwork. They barely glanced at it.
“Mr. Odin?” Adam stepped out of the craft, holding the door of me. I swept out briskly, channeling my father.
“Good afternoon officers.” I nodded at them both as they stood at attention. “I am here to see Dr. Mathias on direct orders from parliament.
“Dr. Mathias is in sessions,” one of them ventured, glancing at the other.
“Exactly what I am here for.” I pushed past them, headed into the building. They scrambled behind me, opening doors as we went. In the entrance area my finger prints were scanned without problem. A young woman in a medical uniform with her hair pulled tightly back led me to Dr. Mathias’ office, leaving me there. The room was round and sterile. It looked more like a lab than a place to relax or study. After a short wait Dr. Mathias stepped into the room.
“Mr. Odin?” He put out a hand which I shook. “I was not informed you were coming.”
“It’s about getting a clean inspection.” I nodded. “We have to make sure we are seeing the truth.”
“Yes, indeed.” He smiled. “You are here for the sessions?”
“One in particular.” I made a show of pulling out a piece of paper and reading from it. “River Tam.”
“Ah, River Tam. Well, you have fantastic timing, she is in session right now.” He motioned for me to follow down a path of turns until we stepped into a room. I almost cry out as a man shoves what looks like a needle deeper into River’s head.
“Nightmare?” Dr. Mathias asked.
“Off the charts.” The assistant grinned. “Scary monsters.”
“Let’s amp it up. Delcium, eight-drop.” The assistant did as he was told. I studied River, hoping my horror didn’t show. It was like nothing I’d ever scene before.
“See, most of our best work is done when they’re asleep. We can monitor and direct their subconscious, implant suggestions.” I stepped forward as River moaned, crying out quietly and squirming. Luckily, the doctor misread my concern. “It’s a little startling to see, but the results are spectacular. Especially in this case. River Tam is our star pupil.”
“I’ve heard that.” I don’t take my eyes from River.
“She’ll be ideal for defense deployment, even with the side-effects.”
“Tell me about them.” I perked up, knowing the information could be useful alter.
“Well, obviously, she’s unstable, the neural stripping does tend to fragment their own reality matrix. It manifests as borderline schizophrenia.”
“What use do we have for a psychic is she’s insane?” I asked, stepping closer to River.
“She’s not just a psychic, given the right trigger this girl is a living weapon. She has her lucid periods, we’re hoping to improve upon the… I’m sorry sir, but I have to ask. Is there a reason for this inspection?”
“Am I making you nervous?” I asked, turning to him.
“Key members of parliament have personally observed this subject; I was told that the alliance’s support for the project was unanimous. The demonstration of her powers-”
“How is she physically?” I interruptted.
“Like nothing we’ve seen. All our subjects are conditioned for combat, but River, she’s a creature of extraordinary grace.”
As he spoke, I moved closer to River. At last I was in the perfect position.
“Yes, she always did love to dance.” The doctor gave me a look of confusion, but before he could speak I dropped to one knee and activated the weapon they gave me. It sent electromagnetic pulses at head level, temporarily stunning whoever it comes in contact with. I squatted in front of River.
“River, it’s Simon.” I unfastened the device from around her face. “Please, it’s Simon, it’s your brother.” She still sat unconscious, so still I worried she was dead. I left her for a moment. The pulse had dissipated and I stripped to the school employee uniform. That done, I peer out the door to make sure no one is coming to check on us. Seeing no one I turned, almost walking into River. She was awake, but still looked lost.
“Simon?” She looked at me, but seemed to look through me. “They know you’ve come.”
“We have to go.” I took her hand, and she followed as complacently as a small child, letting me lead her. “We can’t make it to the surface from the inside,” I explained as we walked. A door opened and I panicked. “Find a place to-” Before I can finish she had climbed up the wall to balance on the ceiling above me. I tried not to stare in awe as the people passed. “River,” I hissed when they were gone and she dropped gracefully beside me.
“Gravity is a mind game.” She tilted her head. “Thomas is waiting.” In that moment I was terrified of my sister, and what she could do. Her eyes met mine and I saw so much pain in them. I couldn’t help but pull her into a hug.
“We have to go.” I ended the hug and tugged her along behind me, following a path I’d memorized to the ventilation tube at the back of the building. If we could get up the tube, we could load into the ship with no one the wiser.
I used a crow bar to open up the barrier to the tube and helped River out. I sealed the door behind us just as two guards arrived. They slammed into the glass, cracking it with each blow. Below us, security shields hummed to life, closing off the tube one level at a time. Just in time the platform was lowered from the ship above. We stepped on and the others hauled us up just as I heard the glass smash out below. A couple shots hit the platform but then we were safely inside the ship.
“Hold on,” Thomas yelled, revving the engine to hyper-speed. We hit atmo before anyone could follow. “Woo!” Thomas yelled from the front.
“Are you okay, River?” She nodded, but I wasn’t sure she understood the question.
“How was that for exciting crime, Mr. Odin?” Adam asked.
“Odin?” River looked up quickly at me, and I worried that she was going to panic, that she didn’t know I was me. She placed a hand on my cheek. “Norse god. Meaning fury, or poetry, the god of wisdom, death and prophecy.”
“Yes.” I put a hand gently over hers.
“Simon.” She smiled a little. “My brother.”
“Yes.” I smiled back, holding her close.
“We need to put her under.” Adam held a needle.
“No.” River scrambled away, gripping my arm tightly.
“River, it’s okay. We’re not safe yet. We need to do this.” I held her, smoothing her hair soothingly and she finally stopped squirming enough for Adam to inject her. Within moments she was sleeping peacefully.
“She needs to be naked to go into the chamber.” Adam blushed.
“I’ll do it.” I nodded. He scurried to the front, leaving me alone. I undressed her quickly, blushing to see the woman she’d turned into while away. I arranged her carefully inside the chamber, as modestly as possible, and shut the door, setting the dials appropriately.
“She set?” Thomas asked, as I step into the front.
“Yes, thank you.” I nodded.
“Thank you, you’re the one who set us up to save more than her.” He grinned and clapped my shoulder. “Next stop Persephone.”
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