Spy Glass Page 45

“This is the Black Sergeant. He’s in charge of the yard,” the LT said.

He nodded.

“Behave and follow the rules,” Cicek told me.

“What are the rules?” I asked.

“Depends on my mood,” the Black Sergeant said.

I would have laughed except he didn’t look like he was joking. Cicek left and the Black Sergeant returned to his post, leaving me. I glanced at the inmates. All females and only a few used the training equipment. The others preferred to gather into groups.

Leaning against the far wall, I watched the activity. The first sign of trouble was the glances. A large cluster of women kept looking at me. When they spread out and approached, I prepared an escape plan. The Black Sergeant kept an eye on us, but he didn’t appear too concerned.

“Hey, new girl,” the one woman called. Slightly broader than the others, she was also a step ahead of them. “Did you enjoy killing your husband?”

I smiled despite my rapid pulse. “I think you’re mistaking me for someone else. I didn’t kill anyone.”

“You can quit the innocence act. We know better,” she said in an unfriendly tone. She came closer.

Valek’s patient instructions replayed in my head, calming my heartbeat. I examined my opponent. A classic bully intent on making a point. Talking my way out of this wouldn’t work.

“You know nothing.” I pushed off the wall and strode toward her, stopping mere inches away. I confronted her. “Go away before you get hurt.”

Her gang members laughed, but she didn’t. Perhaps it was because she read the intent on my face.

“Big talk.”

As she reached into her pocket, I moved. Poking her torso with two fingers, I stepped to the side as she hunched over in pain. She pulled a weapon. I grabbed her wrist and squeezed. With a shriek, she dropped the shank, and I increased the pressure, forcing her to her knees.

My attack lasted seconds. By the time her gang recovered from their surprise, she was at my mercy.

“Keep your distance or I’ll break her arm,” I ordered.

They hesitated. Without their leader, they didn’t know what to do. I met the Black Sergeant’s gaze. He nodded.

“I’ll make this simple,” I said to the others. “Stay away from me or you’ll end up like her.” Pinching my finger and thumb, I sent a fresh wave of agony up her arm.

She screamed and writhed on the ground. I waited until she passed out, then released my grip. Standing over her prone form, I made eye contact with each woman. No one challenged me.

Satisfied, I picked up the shank and joined the Black Sergeant. He hadn’t moved from his post. I handed him the weapon.

“Impressive,” he said. “Too bad those moves won’t work for you tomorrow.”

I hoped I wouldn’t be here then. Because he was right.

Back in my cell, I waited. It occurred to me that most of the time needed to carry out a mission involved waiting. And the inactivity wore on my nerves. Finally, after confirming the LT’s departure for the evening and listening for the midnight check to finish, I prepared for my foray into the SMU. Even though I had lost the tools and weapons in my clothes, I still had a few tricks up my sleeve. Well… Not quite my sleeve.

I pulled my jumpsuit down and dug my fingernails into the skin on the outside of my right thigh, peeling away the strange putty Valek used to cover the lock picks glued there. He had matched my coloring so well, two strip searches hadn’t discovered it.

On my left thigh, I uncovered a few other surprises. Once all my goodies were in their proper places, I lay on the bed, or rather the metal shelf covered with a thin mat, and sang one of my favorite songs off-key. Happy my voice didn’t warble with the nervous fear humming in my blood, I belted out the lyrics.

“All right, songbird, quit the concert,” the CO ordered through the bars.

“No.” I started the second verse.

She grumbled something about teaching the new girl as she unlocked the door and entered my cell. “Stand up.”

I noticed she kept her distance. The Black Sergeant must have told her about my use of the pressure points in the yard. I stood and faced her.

She gestured to the back wall. “Secured position. Now.”

“No.”

The officer’s foot kicked toward my ribs, but I dodged to the side and trapped her leg. I jabbed a dart into her calf and depressed the little plunger, squirting liquid into her body.

She yelped and jerked her leg free, staring at me in horror. “What the…?” Her confusion softened.

She staggered and I caught her before she hit the floor. I dragged the now-sleeping woman over to the bed and undressed her. Pulling clothes off an unresponsive body was harder than I imagined. I tugged and swore under my breath, wasting precious time. The next check would be in an hour.

Once I finished, I changed into her uniform, smoothed my hair and locked the CO in my cell. I stopped at her desk, rummaging for a piece of paper. Folding it in half, I used the CO’s keys to access the stairs and headed down to the SMU.

After another set of doors, I approached the main entrance to the wing. A single CO sat behind a gray metal desk. As soon as he spotted me, he jumped to his feet. Suspicion creased his face.

I waved the paper. “Message from the warden.”

“At this hour?”

I feigned shock. “Haven’t you heard?”

“Heard what?”

“Rioters attacked the Councilor’s Hall. They’re holding the Councilor for ransom.”

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