“One wrong word, and you or the pilot, suffer. Convey my message exactly as I told it to you.”
I admit I was truly surprised when she did as I asked. I was still preparing for a snafu, but took a wait and see attitude.
“You would’ve enjoyed working with us,” she said after she finished.
“Who knows perhaps I’ll return in the future.”
“I will issue orders that if you return without invitation you are to be killed on sight.” She smiled deviously, which made me wonder what she’d done that I hadn’t detected.
“If I return you will never know until the middle of the night when I call on you for answers and believe me if anything goes wrong now, that night will not be one you and yours will remember.”
Removing the projectile weapon, I checked its load and found it fully loaded. Then I went in the cockpit and woke the pilot. He shook his head and drank the bottle of water I gave him, glanced at the pistol in my hand and grinned. “Didn’t fall for it heh?”
I smiled too. “Not really, but she came close to convincing me.”
He nodded. “Got me and it’s a lifetime commitment.”
“I’ll be leaving when we are groundside. Join me if you like.”
He glanced at his new landing instructions, looked at me and shook his head as if amazed. “Don’t know how you got this done but I think you will escape without getting killed. I’ll let you know about joining you by the time we are down.”
I pointed to my hostage. “She’s coming with me as insurance.”
He laughed dryly. “Well that adds a bit of amusement. She’s quite valuable to the men and women running this place.” He nodded toward the back. “Sit and put your harness on, we are going down.”
The journey groundside was blessedly silent. The pilot hovered the aircar above and to the front of what was obviously an armored vehicle.
I slipped out of my harness and joined him so I might see what I was facing if the woman I had hostage proved to be less important then it seemed she might be. But I saw nothing amiss, which triggered an alert in the back of my brain.
After getting her on her feet with her hands tied before her, I walked her to the exit side that would be closest to the truck. I was counting seconds in my head, which I always did right before I moved to hit my target. Then I saw two women in body armor escorting Margaret.
Margaret appeared weak and disheveled, like she been treated with violent retribution. She favored her left leg leaning into the woman on her right side. She was wearing body armor too.
They stopped when they reached the side of the truck facing the aircar. The woman not helping Margaret stay erect placed a package on the hood of the vehicle. She pointed at me and then at the package. My body armor, I assumed, but still something felt wrong.
“Put the aircar down and shut it off,” I told the pilot. When he didn’t obey I glanced back and saw he held a laser pistol pointed at me head.
I shot him in the right shoulder with the projectile weapon. “Land it now or my next shot will be your left knee.”
Blood was running down his arm and chest, but this time he did what I told him to do.
“Now opened the door and lower the steps, then climb down with your hands high. Any problems and you are the first to die.”
He passed the woman and muttered, “I’m sorry.”
She smiled at him. “You tried.”
Two minutes later I was on the ground donning my body armor, which was unlike any I’d seen or used. This suit molded itself to me and then I felt nothing, like it wasn’t there but it definitely was.
Of course, putting it on and watching my hostage was a challenge, but I succeeded. Then I waved Margaret over, helped her into the truck and finally the woman, who actually pleaded with me to let her go. That told me they planned to destroy the vehicle once we were moving, but I was certain they would not as long as I had their precious hostage.
When the vehicle was sealed, I reviewed the controls and jammed it in to drive. It jerked a couple times as I worked on controlling it, but finally we were racing away from the place that housed the elevator.
I had considered they might try using an aerosol knockout drug, but then hoped they would not as long as the woman remained with us.
I heard the sounds of someone in pain, looked over and watched Margaret climb into the seat next to me.
“I used the roped I found in the back to tie that bitch into her seat.” Margaret spoke though her pain.
I waited to ask what they did to her, but knew if she wanted me to know she’d tell me when ready.
“Thank you for rescuing me, Stanton.” She leaned over and kissed my cheek. I turned my head and kissed her lips.