Inside Out Page 77

I glanced at Jacob. He looked hopeful.

“Why don’t you call yourself Doctor Garrard?” Riley asked.

“The name is too painful for me. After Karla recycled Nolan, I returned to my mother’s family and used her name.” She met my gaze. “I’m trying to amend my past deeds by helping you. I knew once you heard my real name, you wouldn’t listen to me. That’s why I invited Riley and Jacob here.”

I mulled over their story, searching for hints of deceit. “I’m not so sure about the chance encounter. Domotor did seek me out in the lower levels.”

“That’s because you knew how to travel through the pipes,” Riley said.

The others nodded as if this explained everything.

They didn’t know I was Kiana’s daughter. They didn’t know I was alive. Still, the story seemed too pat. “But what about the loose vent cover in the storeroom? Someone had to sabotage it.”

Riley flushed. “That’s my fault.”

We all stared at him and his cheeks reddened.

“Uh…I wanted to meet one of the cleaning scrubs, so I…I did push the couch underneath, but even though you missed it you didn’t get hurt…well, not too bad, and…” At a loss for words, he finally stopped.

I glanced at them. But couldn’t decide whether to trust them or not. Not like I had any other options at the moment. Although I planned to keep the information about my birth parents to myself. Even with my eyes blue, Kiana hadn’t recognized me. For once I knew something the rest did not.

When I had healed enough for the doctor’s approval, I entered the air shafts and headed toward Domotor’s room. I brought as much food as Lamont could smuggle without raising any suspicions. The duct was free of RATSS because the scrubs kept the Pop Cops busy with small revolts.

Jacy relayed the details of the resistance to me through the earring/receiver. Interesting how the Pop Cops generated more problems when they clamped down harder on the scrubs. The scrubs also stopped working and cleaning. Dirty laundry spilled over bins in Sector B1, piles of fertilizer and items to be recycled grew into large mounds.

I arrived at Domotor’s room without any trouble. The prophet sat on the couch surrounded by bits of metal. Anne-Jade and Logan worked together at the table. They all stared at me as if seeing a ghost.

Logan whooped and ran over to me. “You escaped!” He hugged me.

“Easy,” I said as his arms brushed several healing cuts.

“We thought you didn’t. What took you so long?” Anne-Jade asked.

“Overprotective doctor.” I tried to explain about the uppers and the Force of Sheep, but they already knew more than I did. “What’s been going on?”

“I’m getting good at traveling through the ducts,” Logan said, “and Anne-Jade’s been wearing the Pop Cop uniform so much the others are calling her Ensign Mineko.” His brow creased. “They keep close track of the scrubs, it would make sense that they would keep even closer track of their own people.”

“They’re glad to have the extra help,” Anne-Jade said. “Besides, just because the Travas have control of Inside doesn’t mean they are smart enough to know all their weaknesses.” She smiled with a predatory glint in her eye. “Weaknesses we can exploit to the fullest.”

“But don’t get too cocky,” I said, thinking of my father. “The Pop Cops have, and see what’s happening?”

“But it’s all noise,” Domotor said. “Travas control the computer systems. Despite these anti-stunners—” he flourished the metal piece in his hand “—another outright revolt will fail again. Although this time they might use poison gas instead of sleeping gas to subdue us.”

“Won’t happen,” I said. “They need us.”

“But what’s to stop them from putting us all to sleep and then going around and kill-zapping the troublemakers?” Domotor asked.

Nothing. “Then we’d better get control of the computer systems. Logan?”

“It’s going to take a coordinated effort from both uppers and lowers, but it’s doable.” He met my gaze. “And we’ll need to get into the Control Room.”

“Impossible,” Domotor said.

“Why? We have one upper who works there,” I said.

“All the overrides are there. One person isn’t enough,” Logan said.

I considered. All the high-ranking officers work there and they were all armed. Probably had extra guards, too. No way to walk through the door. Air duct seventy-two was the best way in, but we could be picked off as we dropped down.

“Logan, do you have any anti-kill-zappers?”

“No, but I have Zippy.” He hunted under the table and pulled Zippy from a pile of metal. “I’ve added another feature. Toggle this switch—” he pointed “—and Zippy will emit a pulse that should knock out their weapons.”

“Should?” I raised my eyebrows.

“I haven’t fully tested it yet. And he only has a short range.”

“What about the computer systems?” Domotor asked.

“They’ll be fine.”

A full-out rebellion would take a major amount of luck and coordination. The Tech Nos and Domotor looked at me, waiting. No one else would be able to organize both sides. I drew in a deep breath. We had the technology, the intelligence and the people—put enough sheep together and you have a herd, a force to be reckoned with. We needed a leader.

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