keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 104: Slade 34
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 103: Hastings 36
Slade looked at the screen, trying to see anything that didn't seem right to him.
"I tell you, it's a trap," Tom repeated.
George responded, "Oh, you always think it's a trap."
"That's true," Phil Banson said. "But this time he's right. It is a trap."
Everyone stared for a moment at the screen. Then John spoke.
"It changes nothing. There are still prisoners inside, and Timara will execute them; or if not, he'll move them to where they can't be rescued."
"It changes everything," Banson argued. "At this point, we don't even know if there are prisoners in there. Clearly we are expected. They know we have to leave our ship and come aboard. Once we are there, they'll have some way to catch or kill us all, take The Destiny, and recover the prisoners. We will have to double check everything. Is the prisoner transport booby-trapped? Are there strike force troops hidden somewhere? Is this still worth the risk?"
Everyone was silent for a moment.
"If any one of us were in there," John said, "the rest of us would come to his rescue. If all of us were in there, we would hope that someone would come for us. The people who are in there are on our side. They are rebels, revolutionaries, and statesmen. If it costs all our lives, and we free all of them, the Federation has lost and we've won. And we are going to free them, and it's not going to cost our lives."
He began pushing buttons. "Burly, you'll have to go over. Once the control section is secured, you'll have to inspect the troop transport for sabotage, explosives, tracers--whatever. I know it's a big job, but they won't be expecting us to check, and it should be something that will go wrong quickly."
"Right," the engineer answered.
"Phil, if there's no one in the control section, we abort immediately and get out. Toni, get that tap on their cameras as soon as possible, and if there's anything wrong, pull everyone out immediately."
"Then we're going?" George asked. No one answered.
Slade watched as John and Tom vanished from the matter transmitter. John was dressed in guard's clothes, Tom in a maintenance uniform with a tool box and a gadget he called a prismatic reflector. The guards watching the cameras see dozens of screens, he explained; they're watching for motion. Slap this in front of a camera, and the camera's looking the other way. The guard sees a hall, or a door, or whatever, just like every other screen, and doesn't realize that he's not looking where he should. It buys time, and keeps you out of the line of the camera.
Phil stood in the transmat looking at the clock. He seemed to know exactly how long it would take Tom to open the warden's door, lock picks in the left hand, code keys in the right. "Now," he said, and he, Marilyn, and Ishara vanished, bound for the control room.
Next it would be Slade's turn. George was wearing a prison uniform, but Slade was going in his leather, adding a blaster and a half dozen power cells to his usual weaponry, plus new lock picks to open cell doors.
Phil's voice finally came over the communicator. "We're secure here." And as the now familiar tingle started in his fingers and toes, Slade watched the ship fade from view.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #61: World Transitions. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: