Chapter 14: Fools Rush In – part 2
Shane paced the length of the kids’ lab, scrambling for his cold, rational side. Fear and anger kept it out of reach, and the smooth angles of the prism in his hand seemed to mock him. Everything was going wrong. He’d just gotten Addison back and was losing her already.
He rounded on his kids, who stood side by side against a lab bench. “Ashlynn, I won’t ask again. Teleport me to Gibson’s quarters, or I’ll go there on foot.”
Lynn crossed her arms under her breasts in perfect imitation of her mother. “No, and no you won’t. Knocking on his door is suicide.”
“You can’t go, Dad,” Jake said, his voice nearly inflectionless due to the void. How was he managing to hold on to it? “Stick with the plan. We’ll contact Teague, and he’ll–”
Shane made one last, desperate grab for his alien side. He caught the edge of it, anxiety and emotionless calm warring. Finally he connected with his prism. Stronger now, he barked at his daughter. Teleport me there. Now.
Although Ashlynn grimaced as she fought him, he felt his temperature spike. “Dad!” Jake cried as the lab morphed into the grays of Gibson’s quarters.
Shane dropped to the ground, expecting bullets or tranqs to hurtle at him. Nothing did, so he lashed out mentally at anyone nearby. He heard a few thumps as someone hit the carpeted floor. Although he wanted to jump up and get his bearings, Shane waited with his pulse pounding in his ears. Seconds crawled by, but no reinforcements came running.
Warily Shane got to his feet and looked around. Addison, glassy-eyed, sprawled in a chair with a drink spilled on the floor beside her. On the other side of the room a middle-aged male witch slumped against the wall, unconscious. No sign of Daniel or Joon.
Reaching with his mind, Shane confirmed that he was alone before rushing to Addison. A touch told him that she was alive and uninjured, thank god, but drugged. He scooped her up and hurried to the spot where he’d appeared. Ashlynn! he called. It was like shouting into fog, but he could–
A gunshot erupted, and pain exploded in his right leg. Shane fell to his knees but managed to hold on to his wife. A second shot tore through his left side. Time seemed to slow as Shane screamed, and Addison landed on the carpet with a thump. Shane threw his arms out to break his fall, arching him over his wife. Blood from the wound on his side dripped on her blouse.
Gibson chuckled somewhere behind him. “I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done, Myers.”
Shaking from pain and adrenaline, Shane waited for Gibson to move closer. He couldn’t concentrate enough to use his crystal, but he could still fight. “The stupidest thing I’ve done was let you talk me into signing that contract.”
Gibson’s footfalls drew nearer. Shane craned his neck to see the bastard step around the couch and pluck one of the microchips from the floor. Shane’s stomach clenched; the only way out now was through a door or window.
“Please,” Gibson drawled. “You were a 15 year-old murderer with anger management issues. Signing on with Triptych was a no-brainer.”
Shane snorted. “I wish I’d gone to jail.”
“Really?” Gibson moved closer, casually holding a sleek black semi-automatic pistol. The smug bastard stopped with ten feet between them. “You’d trade your career, cushy quarters, and hot piece of ass here for a jail cell with Bubba?”
“At least I could have served a sentence,” Shane shot back. His mind raced from the effort of keeping Gibson talking while staunching the bleeding from his wounds. “Most of us here are little more than slaves!”
“Funny, I didn’t hear any complaints until you and Addison ‘fell in love.'” Air quotes mocked the last three words. Then he rushed forward, lashing out with one foot. Shane twisted to defend himself, making his injured muscles scream with pain. He caught Gibson’s foot, but couldn’t hold on. The bastard broke free.
Snarling, Gibson took aim and fired. The bullet ripped through Shane’s left leg, sending him to the ground and into a fetal position. He heard Gibson pace around him.
“I am so sick of you two disobeying orders and sneaking around. ‘It’s not fair,'” Gibson mock-protested. Then something solid rammed into Shane’s stomach. He groaned and tasted bile. “‘We just want to be together.'” Gibson’s foot connected again. “‘Us and our spoiled freak kids.'” Another kick nearly brought Shane’s dinner up. “Guess what? You can’t always get what you want. Not even me. And now I’m stuck with your damned kids.”
Gasping, Shane willed his eyes open. “They had nothing to do with this.”
“Bullshit.” Gibson lined up his foot with Shane’s head and drew back.
Someone else drew a rasping breath. “Stop.” The man’s frail voice was devoid of emotion.
Gibson whirled around. “Chairman Almeida!” He backed away from Shane. “I thought– I didn’t know–”
“Quiet, boy. Bring him here.”
Hands hauled Shane’s broken body off the floor. He tried to fight, but did little more than twitch. His captor dumped him on something cool and soft. “That’s Italian leather,” Gibson complained.
Shane’s head lolled to the side, bringing the Chairman into view. He looked less like a man than skin stretched over a skeleton, somehow sitting up in a wheelchair. “Closer,” he rasped, and the prim woman standing behind the wheelchair pushed him forward.
Almeida’s eyes locked with Shane’s as his bony hand clamped on Shane’s arm. Shock replaced pain, and not because the Chairman’s body was failing. Cold energy flowed through him, the same as his and Jake’s. You… You’re…
Like you, he confirmed, uninterested.
Shane was too stunned to think. He gaped up at the husk of a man as his wounds healed.
Almeida glanced at his nurse. “He’ll do.”
“But I thought–” Gibson began.
The Chairman cut him off with a look. Gibson bowed his head.
With his injuries mostly healed but exhausted in the wake of adrenaline, Shane struggled to sit up. He was torn between pummeling Almeida with questions and rushing over to Addison.
The old man’s dark eyes seemed to look through Shane. “Lie still.” Shane obeyed; an overwhelming empathic command underscored the words.
Almeida’s other hand closed on Shane’s arm, and energy, familiar yet alien, coursed into him. With it came the emotionless void, somehow emptier than before. Thoughts clicked with machine-like precision, analyzing his body before turning to his brain.
What are you–
“–doing, freak?” Luis smirked despite his split lip.
Sun-heated asphalt seared Shane’s back. Luis had him pinned, but Shane didn’t care. The void had grown, rendering the bully a fascinating specimen. Fighting with bare hands was not only inefficient, but damaging this receptacle. So he reached for his opponent’s heart, severing the nerves that connected the muscle to his cerebellum.
Foolish to only have one, Shane mused as Luis turned blue. Humans have pairs of many vital organs. Why not the heart?
Shane blinked as he came back to the present. He got to his feet, but it hadn’t been his idea. He watched his arms stretch out in front of him, and his bloodied hands flex. To his left Almeida’s skeletal frame slumped in its wheelchair. “Yes,” his voice said, “he’ll do.”