The last thing Harry wanted to do was wake up dead. Fortunately, he didn’t. He woke up in a cramped space. He felt like he couldn’t breathe. But he remembered feeling this way once before, only Harrison Hill had been standing over him telling him what to do. He remembered Hill saying, “Don’t fight it. Relax. Take a slow breath… slowly.” Harry followed his instructions. Feeling started coming back into his limbs and the fuzziness left his mind.
He quickly took stock of his situation. He was probably in the box that the two men had wheeled into the warehouse. From the sounds around him, he deduced that he was someplace close to the airlock, if not in it. That was the last place he wanted to be. The box was not airtight and he was not wearing an environmental suit. If Allyson was right, once exposed to the toxic atmosphere of Magnum-4, he had about 72-seconds in which to live.
Not wanting to attract the attention of his kidnappers, Harry pushed lightly on the top of the box and increased the pressure until he was sure that it was locked. The box was not large enough for him to get any kind of purchase to try to force the top. Regardless, Harry rolled into a ball and wedged his back against the top and tried to straighten his legs, but the lock held. Suddenly, Harry heard a voice he recognized.
“Do you guys recognize this image?” It was Huntington.
“Never saw him,” the man from the STAR said.
“I’ll bet I could recognize him!” Harry shouted.
“What the Hell,” Huntington said.
“GET ME OUT OF HERE!” Harry screamed.
Harry heard a struggle. His box rocked a couple of times as something heavy bounced against it. There was a muffled explosion, a wail-like scream, more grunts and then silence. Something heavy started banging against the center of the top where Harry assumed the lock to be. The box opened.
Harry stood up quickly. Parker Huntington stood between two dead bodies holding the top of the box in one hand and a shattered red-ore brick in the other. “I owe you big time,” Harry said.
“Well, pop-goes-the-weasel,” Huntington said. “What the Hell are you doing in there?”
“They were trying to kill me,” Harry said nodding to the two dead men as he climbed out of the box.
“It has to do with Chapman’s death,” Harry said. “What are you doing here?”
“I work for Turgenev, remember? He’s Vigilance Committee. He had me looking in to Mark’s last day.”
“So was I,” Harry said.
“Apparently you found out something you shouldn’t have,” Huntington said.
“It wasn’t me. It was Mark. He left me a clue. They wanted me dead because they thought I knew more than I did.” Harry felt for his PCD. His pockets were empty. He leaned down and began looking through the STAR crewmember’s pockets. The man was covered with blood and there was a large hole in his chest. “What did you use on him?” Harry asked.
“A trick of the trade,” Huntington said.
Harry found his PCD and punched in an ID code. Quincey answered. “I know why Mark was killed,” Harry said.
“Where are you?” Quincey asked.
“I’m at Mine-6 with Huntington.”
“What’s going on?”
“One of the men off the freighter tried to kill me. Huntington saved my life.”
“Put him on.”
Harry handed the PCD to Huntington. Huntington told Quincey what happened from his perspective. He handed the PCD back to Harry.
“Okay, why was Mark killed?” Quincey asked.
“You’ve got people smuggling red-ore off the planet,” Harry said.
“Not sure, yet.I have to make a couple of stops, first.”
“Take Huntington with you.”
“Sure. Will do.” Harry terminated the call and slipped the PCD back into his jumpsuit. They were drawing a crowd. Harry turned to the men. “Do any of you recognize either of these two?”
The crowd moved forward. Harry took the masks off both men. Someone in the crowd said, “Don’t know the guy with all the blood, but the other one is Sam Kanzaki. He flies for Mine-1.”
“I’ve got to go to the other warehouses,” Harry said to Huntington.
“Do you want me to come with you?” Huntington asked.
“No,” Harry said ignoring Quincey’s order. “They expected me to come here. They won’t expect me to go anywhere else. And anyway... They think I’m dead. Their guard will be down.”
“I’m not sure, yet. But I will be in about two hours.”
Harry left Huntington to explain the two dead bodies, but he wasn’t worried. He was sure that Huntington’s judicious use of the term “Vigilance Committee” would get him out of any trouble that the new additions to the planet’s ecosystem would cause him.
As Harry ran out of the warehouse, Huntington removed his own PCD from his back pocket and keyed in Dr. Mendoza’s number. He told him what happened.Dr. Mendoza told him to wait until he and the body-techs arrived. After Dr. Mendoza terminated the call, Huntington keyed in another ID. Quincey answered.
“Quincey, Huntington. We gotta talk... Harlas isn’t who he says he is.”
Quincey told him when and where. Huntington terminated the call and waited for Dr. Mendoza to arrive.