Inside Out Page 29

“To exchange for Domotor’s. An empty spot will alert LC Karla. Do you know his ID number?”

“Yes, but what about the LC? She’s also scheduled to work the next shift.”

“All the high-ranking officers have a meeting in the Control Room at hour sixty. It lasts about an hour. She’s usually there.”

“Usually?”

“Wait to enter her office until a few minutes past sixty. The computer lists the whereabouts of important people so if there’s ever an emergency they can be contacted. If she’s not listed in the meeting room, I’ll flash the lights in her office to let you know.”

“Do you always know where she is?”

“No. I only have second degree security clearance. The hour sixty meeting and its attendees are general knowledge.”

General knowledge to the uppers. The scrubs hadn’t a clue, and what we did know was doubtful. So much for reporting to my shift on time.

“Get in position now,” Riley said. “I don’t want to open the door until you’re hidden from sight. Just in case someone is out in the hall.”

“How come you’re the only one who uses this room?”

“It’s hard to find and has been forgotten. I doubt anyone is outside, but it never hurts to be too careful.”

I agreed with him, being extra careful should be our motto. Turning away so Riley couldn’t see my smirk—our motto, like we were a gang—I opened the heating vent and slipped inside, taking Zippy with me.

Riley crouched down to help replace the cover. But before setting it in place, he touched my arm. This time I didn’t flinch as the heat from his hand sizzled in my blood. I met his gaze.

“Be careful,” he said.

Cog constantly told me to be careful, but Riley’s voice sounded different. I wondered if it was fear or genuine concern.

“You, too,” I said.

He nodded then replaced the vent’s cover. Rolling Zippy ahead of me, I slid through the tight space toward Karla’s office, but my mind reviewed the strange conversation with Riley as I traveled. Could the Controllers be as bad as the Pop Cops? It was hard to imagine and yet I couldn’t shake the image of blood dripping from his arm, nor could I forget the warmth that still lingered on my skin from his touch.

I reached Karla’s office and slowed. Creeping toward her vent, I listened for any noise. The soft bluelight shone through the vent cover, signaling an empty room. My body was so used to the ten-hour system, I felt rather than knew when it was hour sixty. I hoped my supervisor wasn’t looking for me.

The glow remained steady. After a few minutes, I removed the vent’s cover. Another couple passed before I turned Zippy on and pushed him out. When the alarm failed to sound, I hurried over to the gray evidence closet. Opening the doors, I pulled out Logan’s device and placed it under the keypad, pressing the button.

It hummed and a series of numbers filled the small screen. Typing in the code, I braced for an alarm, but the bolt slid back. I exchanged the fake port for Broken Man’s, checked the ID numbers twice, then relocked the closet.

The room’s daylights flashed a few times. I grabbed Zippy and dove into the vent. Voices sounded beyond the office door. The vent cover stuck in the hole. I tugged on it as the pings of someone entering a code rang. It jerked free. I placed it over the vent as the door opened.

“Alarm off,” Lieutenant Commander Karla said.

Daylights swept over the blue glow, trapping me and illuminating a frowning Karla. I couldn’t ever recall seeing the woman smile.

“This had better be important,” she said to the lieutenant following her into the room.

“Our detainee just gave us a clue to Domotor’s location. I need your permission to assign a search team,” the lieutenant said.

“Has he implicated anyone else?”

“No, sir.”

“Hard to believe he managed to hide a physically disabled man without help.” Frustration tainted her voice.

“He’s strong and has a high pain tolerance, sir.”

My heart stumbled. Only one way to discover how much pain a person could tolerate.

Karla grunted. “But he’s too big to fit in the air shafts. Another scrub had to be involved.”

“But we have no real evidence, sir. That cloth bag could have been blown down to the floor. It’s light enough to have been sucked up by the return air.”

“No. I know a scrub was there, and I’ll find out who was in the air shaft,” she vowed. “No scrub gets away from me.”

“What about the search team, sir?”

“Take team four and report back to me immediately. Understand?”

“Yes, sir.” The lieutenant strode from the room.

The LC scowled at his retreating form. She stood gazing at the door as if lost in thought then left her office, pausing only to reactivate the alarms.

I waited a few minutes to ensure she was gone. The need to act pulsed in my body. Cogon suffered while I wasted time. I headed toward Riley’s room with reckless speed. Even knowing Riley wouldn’t be there, disappointment still jabbed me when I reached the place. I hid Zippy under the couch and hurried to Domotor’s room. My shift be damned. Cogon would not suffer in vain.

10

I HELD DOMOTOR’S PORT BETWEEN MY FINGER AND thumb, flourishing the unit.

The prophet pumped a fist in the air and grinned. “Good work!”

“How long to get the information?”

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