Friday, December 19, 2014

Flash Friday # 125: Company Policy, Part 7

     Alicia expected Theseus to retreat back to the tunnel. However, he gave the opening one look and shook his head as he let the door go closed.

She could see no sign of the door from the outside. Nowhere to escape and the sound of trouble was rushing closer.
"We stay here," Theseus said softly as he pulled her back towards the wall. "If we miss the shuttle, no matter. There will be others. I want to know what the hell happened while we were in the tunnel, though."
She suspected they'd find out soon enough. A rush of people went by their little alcove, shouting and running. Was something worse coming behind them? Was it safe here?
Not safe anywhere as far as she could tell. Not safe with Theseus. Not safe on her own if he was right, and the longer this went on, the more firmly convinced she was that he had told the truth from the moment he spirited her away from the building.
Guards went past. They seemed to be breaking up the trouble. One had a scanner, turned in their direction, and came forward, weapon in hand.
"Show time," Theseus whispered.
"What are you doing here?" the guard demanded.
"Hide, hide," Theseus said, waving his hand, his voice higher. "Loud people, yelling, running --"
"What's going on?" Alicia asked. She didn't have to pretend to be worried and afraid. "My grandmother and I were going to catch the shuttle to the port --"
"All the shuttles are grounded," the man said. He waved them to come out. She wasn't sure she wanted to, but Theseus took hold of her arm and followed his instructions. "And the port is closed besides. You know about the explosion?"
"Some building," she said, a quaver in her voice.
"The terrorists have sent messages that they're going to blow up more. Some damned off-world fanatics. Get clear of this area. We're closing it down."
She nodded and moved along with Theseus, his hand tight on her arm, his step slow but steady. She had the feeling he listened to what the others said. The guards likely had far better information than they would get from the frantic crowd if they caught up with them. Luckily the crowd moved faster and the guards stopped at the edge of the large plaza leading to the Museum District. She and Theseus went on, a slow walk towards the milling people on the street before them. No shuttles, aircar taxis or even ground transportation was in sight.
"What are we going to do?" she dared ask. It sounded like a normal enough question.
"Walk away," he said softly. "We don't dare go back to the cafe, though. Walk. We'll try to join with another group. If I start talking in Greek just nod. If someone asks what I say, I'll translate myself."
She nodded. Alicia was becoming good at nodding. She was, however, starting to look around and try to find answers of her own. Something might happen to Theseus, or she might simply decide it was time to leave his madness behind. She didn't want anything to do with the IWC, and certainly not with Inner Worlds Council Security. She didn't want --
"Careful," he whispered and caught her arm when she started to trip. She glared at him, and he bowed his head, no doubt guessing at her thoughts. "Just careful."
They had moved closer to a group of people who milled around, grumbling and mumbling and looking more bothered than worried. The problems now became more about getting home rather than where bombs might go off. She felt she could deal with those mundane concerns. Theseus even managed to get some of them moving, if only by asking the right questions about where they might find transportation, since there was none here.
She'd almost relaxed when the next explosion went off somewhere across town. Not in the direction of New Worlds for Humanity, either; Whomever had done this one was branching out.
And then another one, this time to the south and far closer.
People panicked. She couldn't blame them. She even tried to pull away from Theseus and run herself, but he held tight and pulled her to the side of a building. But how could he know if this one wasn't go to blow up, too? Not safe --
"This isn't right," he said. She saw the worry in his eyes. "This is far more than simply getting rid of us or framing us for an act of terrorism. What the hell is Brown doing? What could he want?"
"Chaos," she said, kneeling down beside him in the shadows. Focusing on something else helped. "Chaos to cover something else?"
He looked at her, startled. "He's lost all his money in New Worlds for Humanity. If Ross House backed him, and he owes them --"
"He's going to steal something?" she asked.
Theseus looked back towards the museum district and shook his head. "Too obvious. Not something from there."
"Why do this today?" she asked.
He grinned with delight. "You ask all the right questions. I haven't been paying much attention to what's going on in the city. If it were something big and open we'd have heard about it. I need to check things."
They had already, in those few moments, slid away from the violent crowd. Theseus found a spot in a doorway, the building sealed tight, but still safer than standing in the open.
"We don't have much time," he mumbled. "The guards will be along and chase us out."
He pulled out the pocketcomp and his fingers flew over the keys and little screen. She wanted to ask, but he was concentrating so hard that she feared to even breath too loud.
"We are going to need help," he suddenly said. His voice sounded shaken for the first time. "We are going to need a lot of help."
And the ground shook with another explosion.

To Be Continued

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