Inside Out Page 78

“Anne-Jade, how many of those listening and receiving devices do we have?” I asked.

“Four.”

“We’re going to need seven more all on the same frequency, plus all the anti-stunners you can make.”

“We’ll need more supplies,” Logan said.

“Make a list, I’ll contact Jacy.” He should be able to find a few skinny scrubs willing to make deliveries through the air shafts.

I made my own mental list of all the steps we would need to take. A daunting effort. Sadness gripped my heart. I wished Cog were here to help. He would be able to motivate the scrubs.

Maximum damage. It was the beginning of the end. Either we would fail or not. At least we could say we tried.

The Force of Sheep planned to declare war on the Travas during week 147,006 at hour sixty-six. After eighty hours of planning, of secret meetings, of setting distractions and false trails and of assembling illegal technological devices, we were ready.

At hour sixty-five, I crouched in air duct seventy-two with Zippy, waiting for the signal. Takia worked at her station. Even through the vent I could feel her nervous energy, and I willed her to stop looking over her shoulder. The atmosphere throughout Inside had been charged. Those who didn’t know what was about to occur, still sensed the keyed-up feeling of expectation. The Travas had tripled the number of Pop Cops on patrol.

Twice as many Travas had assembled in the Control Room. Both the fleet admiral and the admiral studied maps over the conference table in the far corner. I knew to expect one admiral, but not both. Surrounded by computers, the captain occupied the center of the room. I checked Zippy for the hundredth time. So much rested on the little cleaning troll.

Various stations called in their readiness. Riley and the rest of the uppers had changed their shift times and managed to be at their workstations. Domotor and Logan ghosted in the network. Doctor Lamont prepped for casualties. Anne-Jade, Jacy and his gang waited to overpower the Pop Cops on the lower levels and I prepared to spring a surprise on the Control Room.

Jacy’s voice sounded in my ear. “We go.”

Warning lights flashed in the Control Room’s panels. Banks of computers lined three walls of the room, and uppers sat before them, leaving an open space in the middle for the captain’s station.

“Call for help from Commander Vinco, sir,” an upper called. “Scrubs are revolting.”

The fleet admiral strode over to the captain. “Time to weed out the troublemakers, Captain,” he said.

“Send reinforcements, alert the air controllers to prepare the poison gas canisters,” the captain ordered. He typed on his keypad. “I’ve had it with these bothersome scrubs.”

A spinning feeling of panic grew in my stomach.

“Sir? The air controller on duty just told me to blow the gas out my ass.” Shock whitened the upper’s face.

I suppressed a chuckle. Logan’s voice sounded. “We’re in.”

All I needed to hear. I finished loosening the screws on the vent cover and pulled the cover inside the duct. No need to mask my noise as the upper workers reported one by one to the captain that the mechanical systems failed to respond.

“What do you mean not responding?” the captain demanded.

I lowered Zippy a few inches into the room and flipped the switch. No hum or spark, according to Logan the pulse would be silent. Still I would have felt better to at least see a flash. Trusting the technology, I yanked Zippy back.

The captain pounded on his computer. “Damn thing.”

“Engage the override, we’ll control the systems from here,” the fleet admiral ordered.

My turn. I dropped down onto the fleet admiral. A few cries of alarm had alerted him, but all he had time to do was look up. We landed together in a heap. The stun guns from all the Travas aimed at us, but none of them worked. I wore one of Anne-Jade’s anti-stunners just in case. Yanking my protected stunner from my belt, I neutralized the fleet admiral, the captain and the uppers working near the override controls.

It didn’t take long for a flaw in my plan to become obvious. I needed more time to aim and shoot than I expected. The other uppers left their seats to join in the fray, grabbing for me. Takia remained at her post.

Outnumbered, it was a matter of time before I was unarmed. Stunned bodies littered the ground and a few uppers moved awkwardly with half-stunned body parts. Two men held my arms with tight grips. Not part of the plan. I was supposed to stun everyone and open the Control Room door from the inside.

The admiral remained by his station. He glanced at his stun gun in his hand, then tossed it aside. “Report,” he ordered his team.

Except for the two holding me, the uppers returned to their posts.

“Override engaged, sir,” an upper said.

“Lieutenant Commander Karla is at the door,” Takia reported.

I suppressed a grin of triumph. The override would be knocked out as soon as the door opened and Anne-Jade, Jacy and his group stormed the room.

“Let them in,” the admiral said.

Preparing to join in the fray, I braced for action. The double metal doors slid aside with a hissing noise.

My heart shattered and the men beside me grunted and supported me as my legs turned to liquid.

Lieutenant Commander Karla Trava stood at the door with Commander Vinco on her right side and Doctor Lamont, or rather Kiana Garrard on her left.

23

SPEECHLESS, I STARED AT MY MOTHER. DOCTOR LAMONT’S expression fluctuated between fear and hope as she scanned the faces in the room with a frantic intensity. She clutched something with both hands. When she met my gaze, guilty pain flared for a moment. I marveled at my own stupidity. Even when we knew she had betrayed the last group of rebels, she had conned us again.

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