Inside Out Page 66

During an unusual lull in the conversation, LC Karla spoke from my pocket. Terrified faces turned to me and I hurried to explain about the listening device and Riley’s receiver. I retreated to my room to hear the conversation better.

“...another busted scanner? That’s three this shift. Something’s going on,” the LC said. Her voice strained with frustration.

“It can’t be sabotage. No scrub was allowed near them. They were guarded the entire time by my men,” a man said. His voice sounded familiar.

“Eyes on the devices? Or an ensign stationed outside the supply cabinet?”

“Why would it matter?”

“The scrubs are using the air shafts to get around, you idiot!”

“Lieutenant Commander, no one is in the shafts. The RATSS have found no evidence.”

“I saw her with my own eyes, Commander.” Karla’s tone was even, but each word had a little kick to it as if she bit back her anger.

She was talking to Vinco, the knife-wielding bastard.

“I believe you. But she’s not there now. She’s hiding with this Broken Guy. We need to entice her out,” Vinco said.

“I’ve tried. I promised to not recycle her friend if she turned herself in. It didn’t work.”

“Perhaps we need to find someone she cares for more,” Vinco said.

“She has no other friends. The general opinion is she’s a loner and detests being among the scrubs. Not that I blame her.”

“She might think you’re bluffing about her friend. Schedule him for execution. Parade him down through the lower levels on his way to Chomper’s Lair, take him inside and kill-zap him if she doesn’t give herself up.”

“And if she does?”

“Contact me and I start the interrogations.” I shuddered at the delight in his voice.

“Then what should I do about her friend?”

“Keep him alive. He’s fun to play with.”

“What time should I schedule him?”

“Before the hundred-hour assembly.”

“All right. Go spread the word, Commander.”

The sound of a shutting door echoed through Riley’s metal box. I stared at the clock. Hour sixty-two. Thirty-eight hours to turn myself in. Yet another countdown. I felt as if I had already grieved for Cog, either that or I felt more confident of our success.

I rejoined the others. They had answered another two questions. Four left.

“What’s the one about turning something in?” Takia asked me.

“Oh. It’s number six. It’s What do you turn to get the outside in?”

A discussion ensued, producing the same answers I had. Riley sat in the midst of them, adding his own arguments to the debate. But Doctor Lamont kept her place along the wall. Her pale face appeared strained. I walked over to her.

“Do you feel all right?” I asked.

She gave me a wan smile. “Isn’t that my line?”

“When you look as white as the lady sleeping in the infirmary, it’s a valid question.”

“Just tired.” She pushed away from the wall. “I better check on her and make sure there’s no internal bleeding.” Doctor Lamont hurried from the room.

That’s all the poor woman needed, I thought. She had lost so much blood; I hoped she wasn’t bleeding on the inside.

Daylights flooded my mind. Of course, how stupid! I punched the wall. Everyone quieted and stared at me.

“I know the answer to number six!” I cried.

“Don’t keep us in suspense,” Riley said.

“Inside out! You turn the inside out to get the outside in.”

The group worked another hour, then each left at different times. We had answers, or what we thought were the correct answers to six out of eight questions. Not bad. I turned on my button microphone and hoped someone was listening like Jacy had promised. I sent a message, asking Jacy to bring Logan to Domotor’s hideout at hour eighty-one. His hidden room would be the best to access the network without interruption and without Pop Cops looking over his shoulder. I toggled off the microphone.

Riley returned to his workstation and Doctor Lamont rested in her room. Exhaustion pulled at me, but the doctor had asked me to watch over her patients while she slept.

They all appeared to be asleep, and I wasn’t sure I would even know if they were in trouble. Watching them sure beat scrubbing air ducts. At one point the woman moaned and I rushed over. Lamont had left a few pain pills by the patient’s bedside in case she needed more.

“Are you in pain?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. Her voice was thin and weak.

“The doctor has pills.” I moved to get her a glass of water, but the woman grabbed my arm.

“A pill can’t ease this kind of pain. Can you sit and talk to me?”

“Sure.” I pulled a chair beside her bed. We sat in uncomfortable silence for a while.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Ella.”

A half smile played on her white lips. “That’s it? No family names?”

“Oh. Ella Garrard Sanchia.”

“Still no mate, then?”

“No. I’m Doctor Lamont’s intern.” I pulled on my sleeves, reminding myself to tread carefully and watch what I said.

“Did you…Did you see her?”

Only one possible “her.” The baby. “Yes. She is beautiful.”

“Really?” The woman bit her lip.

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