As the door opened, Izain crouched down by the crates, quickly putting the knife back together. The stiginite blade would have done more harm, but it didn't have much reach. Besides, he didn't want to physically hurt anyone here.
He couldn't see who came in, but it was obvious the person wasn't expecting any trouble. The steps never faltered and the door swished shut. Izain took a quick, quiet breath, preparing --
"What the hell --"
A woman's voice. That didn't slow Izain, who pushed upwards from his crouch and threw himself at the shadowy figure just at the edge of the crates. They hit the ground hard, with her under him and she grunted in surprise.
She was a good fighter, too, getting an elbow into his stomach with enough force to get a gasp of pain before he put the knife right in front of her eyes. She stopped struggling and her face paled from the rage-red of a moment before.
"I'm not going to kill you, Mara."
He saw her blink at the use of her name. He pulled the blade back, but still kept it within her sight. She focused on him, frowning for a moment before her face changed.
"Izain. You're an idiot. What the hell do you think you are doing coming back here?"
He sat back on his heels, but kept her body pinned underneath him. Mara had never been one of his favorite cousins, but she had seemed smarter than some of the clones who marched after Lichad when he decided to take over.
"I'm here to do what I should have done before I left the last time," he said. He carefully eased up, but she made no move against him and he didn't think the blade he carried dissuaded her, either. He saw only calculation in her face as she slowly sat up, rubbing at her right shoulder.
"What are you going to do against Lichad?" she asked. "You can't stop him --"
"I can't, but the IWC can," he said. Her face reddened; the Inner Worlds Council and their troops had never been friends of the Singletons. "I'm hooked into the computer and I can dump everything to the Station Master. My captain is already up there, setting things up. Give me one really good reason why I shouldn't do this. I could disappear again, but it seems like this crap is going to keep following me."
"You are the one from the Mayfire," she said. The lines on her forehead deepened as she looked him over. He felt his blood go a little cold, hearing the ship's name. "Everyone wondered who was with them. Most of them thought it was someone who had jumped a ship, but I always thought it had to be someone from the station. Lichad already has the ship tagged. He was gleeful to see her put into port here and I don't think she'll survive more than a slide if she takes out."
Mara hadn't needed to tell him this. He would have been careful of the ship anyway, given what he was about to do -- but now he realized there was likely something already worked into the Mayfire system. He looked at the wall and then back at her. "What should I do, Mara?"
She stared at the ceiling for a half dozen heartbeats. "You aren't the only one who hates what's happened here. You were just one of the few smart enough to find a way out. Take the bastard down. It's going to be tough on the rest of us, but I'm not the only one who wishes they'd stepped in when Grandfather died. Lichad doesn't go anywhere without six guards and a lot of weapons, and as long as he has control of that damned computer -- you can access it?"
"I already have," he said.
She didn't doubt. "Lichad was worried after you disappeared. He was waiting for it. Do it, Izaid. Take it all down." Fire shown in her face. He watched her for a moment. "Do it! Someone else could come in at any time!"
"Give me the names of people who shouldn't go down with Lichad." He shoved the blade into the sheath and pulled out his pocket comp as he stood. "Fast."
She blinked, then began to rattle off a few names. There were not many. He typed them into a file -- and added hers -- before he went back to the wall. She followed and knelt down so that he didn't have to worry about her standing over him. He still wasn't certain he could trust her. If he couldn't, he was probably damned anyway. He might as well put her to work and have a better chance of surviving if she did do her part.
"Setting the pocketcomp as a relay," he said and nodded to the desk. "Get the computer booted."
Mara dropped a hand on his shoulder before she hurried to the computer. This was trust, which was something he'd rarely tested in the past. He monitored what she did at first, then stopped watching. She could have given him away by now.
"Is is safe to pull up vid from the camera in the hall?" she asked. "I'd really like some warning if someone comes our way."
"Yeah. Do it." Having her to monitor that was a real help while he carefully worked the probe just right and kept his fingers on the pocketcomp keys to steady the flow. They were already starting to dump the info into the Station Master's computer. He hoped Captain Lawrence had talked her way in. He hoped the Station Master was wise enough to get the guards moving.
"How does it look out there?"
"Normal so far."
"Then go. Go now. Lichad probably already knows about the link. I'm almost done here. Go, Mara. Lay low for a while."
"I can still --"
She glanced down at the screen. "Too late anyway. Lichad is here."
(Continued next week)