Jet Drake encounters a woman who challenges his beliefs in right and wrong.
|New Eunomia sparked with flavor as Jet slipped from the chill atmosphere of the airlocks and into the acrid humidity of the spaceport’s cavernous bays. Around him, clusters of asteroid miners, cocooned in the familiar taint of machine oil, and sweat, waited eagerly to weigh in their haul as groups of finely clothed corporates scurried through the crowd like bright birds flushed from the mundane background of humanity. As they passed, they infused the air with hues of perfumed soap and foreign spices sweetening the atmosphere and coloring Jet’s senses like swirls of cream on the rough surface of a bitter brew.
Jet relished his stints away from the station. It wasn’t as if the seven kilometers long, one-kilometer diameter rotating habitat felt claustrophobic. Nor was there any lack of entertainment or interaction. It was simply nice to get away. When you lived in a community of less than 4,000, escaping dinner invitations from your mother and babysitting requests from your sister became damn near impossible. Yet as he waited patiently in the queue to enter the residential district, he was glad the trip was done. A hot shower and bed were all he had in mind. Company transports were efficient but short on amenities.
“So how was Mars, Jet?” The beefy security attendant at the custom’s gate scanner scratched at his muttonchops and grinned as Jet stepped to the head of the line. “I don’t suppose you remembered to bring me a bottle of Marineris Ale?”
Jet laughed and dropped his duffel bag on the scanner’s conveyor. “Gerod, you know Marineris Ale’s contraband.”
As his road-weary bag drifted beneath the device’s beam, a red light pinged on the scanner’s arch bringing the track to a halt. When Gerod unzipped the sack, a wide smile spread across his ruddy lips. Reaching inside, he withdrew a burgundy bottle with the imprint of a trench across its glassy face. A two-liter bottle of Marineris Trench’s finest.
“I’ll have to confiscate this,” Gerod said with a wink. He delicately placed the bottle among a shelf of other bootleg items.
“Aww, that’s too bad.” Jet lifted his duffel and formed his fingers into a gun, snicking down the hammer with a click of his tongue. “And don’t drink all that yourself, my friend. You owe me a shot.”
The big man waved him through and Jet hustled for the exit. “You got it, Jet. Drop by any time.”
Space docks, vast hydroponic gardens, and industrial facilities surrounded Jet as he exited the cramped arrival gates at the far end of the tube. Flagging down a transcart, he tossed his duffel into the back before hopping into the front seat.
“Grid four, apartment two ‘A’,” he said.
The little blue cart zipped away with the hum of electric motors as he pulled up his retinal overlay and blinked through his schedule. He had a breakfast meeting in the morning with the Governor and her staff to go over shipment details, then his monthly debrief with security at one. He leaned back and kicked his feet onto the dash letting the cool evening breeze whip through his hair. Plenty of time for a hot shower, a home cooked meal, and a long night’s sleep.
New Eunomia’s residential district was laid out in a horseshoe surrounding a glimmering blue reservoir at the far end of the slowly rotating habitat. Water cascaded into it along a series of falls before meandering the five kilometers to swirl down the drain at the foot of the industrial district gates. From there it was filtered and recycled to the sixty foot cataracts high on the habitat walls where it tumbled once more into the lake’s pristine surface. Restaurants, governmental buildings, and a handful of select apartments commanded a view over the water while behind these structures, two and three story dwellings wrapped up the edges of the cylinder terminating at a forested park hovering in the sky 180 degrees distant.
Locking his fingers behind his head, Jet glanced up and studied the park on the opposite side of the ring. It was only at dusk that you really had a good view of the far side. The rest of the day, the solar rail mounted at the hub burned too brightly to see. Now that the light globes had dimmed, riding to the end of their rails in a simulation of sunset, the opposite side became clear.
Even at a kilometer’s distance, it was easy to make out the forms of couples strolling hand in hand through the manicured gardens. A man played Frisbee with his dog while children chased each other around the swings. Even though he’d called New Eunomia home since he was a kid, Jet had never gotten used to looking up and seeing another world hovering above him. He guessed he never would.
“Grid four, apartment two ‘A’”, the cart’s mechanical voice chimed.
Jet slid from his seat and shouldered his bag staring up at the flat white façade of his bungalow. Marching up the steps to the second floor, he sighed in frustration. He could see right away Margo hadn’t been watering his plants. He frowned lifting the tired leaves of a Philodendron. Well, what could he expect, his niece was only nine. He placed a thumb on the lock plate and the door slid open. Jet stepped inside with a sigh. Home.
“Don’t move a muscle, and I won’t have to kill you.”
The voice fell flat and hard freezing Jet in place. What was this? A robbery? There hadn’t been a robbery in New Eunomia for decades. When there were cameras everywhere, crime simply didn’t pay. A vendetta? Jet ran over the list of people he’d arrested during his years as head of security. Nothing matched. Anyone convicted of a serious crime had long ago been banished from the station. The same went for troublemakers. Once you violated the rules, a vote of the council usually sent you packing.
“What do want?” he asked.
In his mind, Jet ran through a list of his valuables. He had no drugs, no prescriptions; money was transferred through an ID chip in his palm so there was no point in that. Even if they could access his bank account, there were only a few thousand credits. Hardly enough to warrant this.
Weapons? That had to be it. His police pistol and a stunner were locked in his safe. It was the only thing that made sense.
“You won’t get away with this,” Jet said. “You should save yourself the trouble and quit while you’re ahead.”
There was an amused chuckle. “Well, until that time,” The voice was raspy and deep. Mechanical in tone. “I want you to drop your bag and grab a seat.”
His duffel hit the floor with a solid thud as he stepped back and dropped into a recliner. Jet’s apartment was tight, most of the space taken up by his narrow living room and galley kitchen. A door to the left led into a bathroom with a toilet and shower. Down the hall, was his bedroom holding a Murphy bed, a pullout desk, and his collection of books.
“All right.” The figure slid from the shadows, a blaster gripped in his hand. The man was wearing a black jumpsuit with the hood pulled over his head. A backpack with a Miner’s Union patch was slung across one shoulder.
“Here, put these on.”
With a plastic rattle, a pair of control cuffs landed at Jet’s feet. He guessed by the voice that it was a man. But the figure’s outline was wrong. The shoulders too thin, the hips wide. What did ...she …want?
“I’m not putting on any cuffs so you can do whatever you’ve got planned.”
He rose from his seat, fists balled. “If you’re gonna kill me, then kill me. I’m not gonna be your plaything.”
The woman chuckled and threw back her cowl. The rosy glow filtering in from the window fell across her face. Her dark hair was pulled into a ponytail, a mining respirator covered her nose and mouth. The crimson light on the blaster’s plasma cell blinked with an angry one-two pattern. An indicator it was set to kill. “Don’t flatter yourself, Jet. I’m not here for you.”
She sideled into the kitchen positioning the bar between them. “I’m not going to hurt you. Not if I don’t have to.” She waggled the barrel at the cuffs. “Now put those on and have a seat. We need to talk.”
Jet considered. The cuffs were likely standard shock restraints. Once he put them on, he’d be at the mercy of whoever this was. Despite the threat of the blaster, there were fates worse than death.
He shook his head. “Don’t think so.” So far, he’d allowed his nanos to suppress the output of adrenaline. Now he set them free, his heart quickening, his muscles bunching as hormones surged through his limbs. If he was going down, he’d go down fighting.
“Before you do something rash.” The woman said as if anticipating his thoughts “You should look at this.” She leaned across the bar and flipped a touch-pad through the air.
Jet caught it and glanced up. “What’cha want me to do with this?”
“Open it up and take a look.”
When he tapped on the screen, an image of his niece, Margo, appeared. She was sitting in a chair. The camera angle was odd, but there was something familiar about the bookshelves in the background. He tilted the image, recognizing the scene. It was his bedroom.
“Don’t worry, she’s not hurt. I injected her with medical grade nanos. Enough to keep her calm. Or if you try to stop me, enough to stop her heart.” The woman nodded to the front door. “She was on her way to a friend’s house when she dropped by to water the plants. I overwrote her positioning app so mom and dad will think she’s at her friend’s. Likewise, I messaged her friend’s mother saying she wasn’t’ coming.” No one will be looking for her until sunrise.”
Jet lowered the screen and glared.
“Now, please. Put on the cuffs.”
Reluctantly, he reached down and lifted the hard plastic rings and slid them over his wrists. The woman lifted a remote and pressed a button. The cuffs tightened, ripping out the fine hairs on his wrist as they synched against his skin.
“Now we talk.”
She stepped to the kitchen table and pulled out a chair. The legs scraped noisily across the floor as she swung the chair around and dropped into the seat backwards, her arms folded nonchalantly over the back.
“Now look, Jet. I’ve got no beef with you. In fact, I’ve a rather high opinion of your abilities.”
She peered over the mask, her hard brown eyes seeming strangely familiar. Where had he seen them before?
“Your employer seems to share an equally high opinion of you. Which is why she assigned you one of the highest clearances on the station.” She leaned back, the chair’s wooden legs creaking beneath her.
“What is it you want?” Jet cocked his head unsure of where this was going. “I’m not going to jeopardize New Eunomia. If Margo and I have to die to keep the station safe, then that’s what we’ll do.”
She laughed, the muffled sound echoing through the room. “See?” She waved the pistol in a circle. “Whoo, that’s what I’m talking about. Hard-core loyalty.” She shook her head. “You just can’t put a price on that. No, Jet, I don’t want to sabotage the fusion generation chambers, I don’t want to poison the atmospheric scrubbers, or purge the system assemblies. I have one simple request.”
Jet scowled. “Yeah, and what’s that?”
“I wanna meet your boss.”
It had been months since Jet strolled the midnight streets of New Eunomia, the echo of their splashing feet swallowed by the darkness as they made their way along the rain dampened avenue. This soon after the scheduled showers, it was unlikely they’d encounter a pedestrian, but his captor had taken no chances. She’d wrapped his wrists in a jacket to hide the cuffs and strolled a pace behind him blaster at the ready.
Jet led her towards the waterfront and the ferry to the far side. The Governor’s flat lay along the path on the opposite shore. As they walked, he considered his plan. The little ferries were stable, so dumping her in wasn’t an option. However, if he could manage to dive in, he might win free. She’d be forced to either paralyze him, in which case he’d likely drown, or she’d have to let him go. Either way, an unauthorized swimmer would cause alarm bells to sound at the station. Margo and the Governor would be safe and this woman’s options would be gone.
As they stepped onto the path to the ferry, he felt a tingle run up his arms as a warning stun cycled through the cuffs.
“Where are you taking me, Jet.”
He turned and cocked a brow. “To the Governor’s mansion of course.”
“I told you I want to meet the Governor. I don't care where she lives.”
Jet turned and peered over his shoulder. Lights from the Governor’s mansion shimmered across the darkling surface like long white spears.
“But the Governor’s room is….”
She turned and nodded towards the industrial district. “Next to the shuttles if I’m not mistaken.”
How did this woman know? It wasn’t common knowledge the leader of New Eunomia rarely spent time in her own bed. Someone tipped her off. For a year now, the Governor slept in the converted offices next to the escape shuttles afraid of being caught in a disaster. It seemed every month she’d become more and more paranoid, her concern at being struck down by various improbabilities putting more and more pressure on Jet and his team to provide solutions.
The Governor had led the people since funding the habitat’s construction over sixty years ago. Thanks to her wealth, she’d not only provided a home for thousands of refugees, but her money allowed her to maintain the appearance of a woman in her thirties. In spite of a miners rebellion, a system-wide plague, and a Lunar civil war, she’d kept the city running and its citizens happy. No one questioned her rejuv-treatments or the mysterious extended trips to the outer system as long as New Eunomia ran without a hitch.
The woman waved her blaster. “Come on, we don’t have all night.”
Jet led the way along the twisting watercourse to the gate at the edge of the spaceport district. Even at this time of night, a guard was stationed at the entrance.
“You’re not going to get in wearing that,” Jet said. “No one but security personnel are allowed inside after hours.”
She dug in her pockets, withdrew a pair of binoculars, and studied the gate. With a quick check of her watch, she waved them off the street and between a pair of buildings.
“We’ve got a few minutes.” She motioned for Jet to have a seat before slipping off her pack and dropping it to the ground.
“I’m programming your cuffs to paralyze you if you move. Even shifting your weight, nodding your head. If you take too deep a breath, you’ll find yourself in a very painful and uncomfortable situation. Do I make myself clear?”
Jet spat out his words like bitter seeds. “Yeah. I get it.”
The woman tapped a code into her remote and laid it on the ground. Kneeling, she unzipped the pack and produced a security patrol uniform.
As she changed, Jet was once again struck by a feeling of familiarity. Her build was athletic, her muscles lean and firm but with the sinewy look of age. Her body was stamped with scars. A faint inverted ‘Y’ ran from between her breasts to her navel, a ten-centimeter slash just above her panties ran parallel to the elastic. As she bent down, she grimaced, drawing Jet’s eye to the scar above her right knee. He studied her unable to shake the sense of deja-vu. Shaking free her ponytail, she removed her mask and turned her dark gleaming eyes on him.
It was the Governor.
“So this was a…a test?” Jet spat the words, indignation coloring his cheeks. As he rose, pain arched through his wrists and jitterbugged across his spine. Every muscle tensed as his sight went black and his body hit the ground.
Pealing open his eyes, he found the Governor staring down at him.
“Didn’t I tell you not to move?”
Jet rolled to his side and puked. Wiping a wrist across his mouth, he pushed himself up. He was leaning against the plastone façade of the building, the lights of the habitat casting night pale shadows across them both.
“How long was I out?”
The Governor checked her watch. “About ninety seconds.” She reached into her pack and tossed Jet a bottle. “It’s water. You could probably use a sip.”
He washed away the taste of bile feeling the tingle of the shock slowly fade.
“Governor. I don’t under…”
“I’m not the Governor,” she snapped. “I may look like that bitch, but I’m definitely not her.” She checked her watch before leaning out to check the gate. “You can call me Charlie although my birth name is actually CZ dash one-oh-two.
Jet’s brows knit in confusion. “This is some kind of test, isn’t it? Some weird loyalty thing.”
The Governor had her quirks, especially lately, but he’d never expected anything like this. Then again, he’d only been with her for sixteen years. He’d heard whispers about the Governor during the early days. Based on rumors anything was possible.
“No, Jet, this isn’t some attempt to gauge your devotion. Although, if it was, you’d have passed with flying colors. No, this is my attempt to come face to face with the person who’s tormented me for decades.”
“I don’t get it.” He shook his head in a slow ‘no’.
“It’s quite simple,” Charlie said. “Your Governor’s a very, very wealthy woman. But you already knew that. She’s also a very long-lived one, but you knew that as well.”
She cocked her head and leaned closer. “Do you ever wonder how she maintains her youth?”
The Governor’s ageless appearance had been the topic of many a drunken discussion in the habitat although it was a subject approached with a sense of taboo. Of course, there were rumors. Doctors with secrets of eternal youth available only to the rich. An alien conspiracy keeping the elite in power while the riff-raff died away. These were two of the most popular, although Jet always assumed it was the former.
“Nano-treatment of some sort,” Jet said. “A rejuv injection like you see in the Hollywood Virtuals?”
Charlie nodded. “Something like that. Only, you see, your precious Governor has a problem. In her days as a smuggler, she contracted biphasic exosclerosis. Milford’s Syndrome as it’s more commonly known.”
Jet shook his head. “Never heard of it.”
“Not surprised.” Charlie checked her watch then pushed to her feet with a groan. “It’s a rare disorder. You can only get it by prolonged exposure to Enceladus Eels.”
Charlie peered around the corner before bringing the binoculars to her eyes. “That’s right, Jet, Enceladus Eels. A quite illegal and lucrative export from Saturn’s most popular moon. It made me, made her, quite a lot of money.”
She clicked the remote and motioned Jet to stand. “Unfortunately, the disease attacks the major organs. Heart, lung, kidney, liver. After a few years, if you don’t get a transplant...well, you die.”
Jet stared at her, his brow cocked in thought. Then it all came together. The scars, the strangely familiar eyes, the odd sense of deja-vu. Charlie didn’t just look like the Governor. She was the Governor.
“You’re a clone.”
“Ding, ding, ding, give that man a prize. That’s right, Jet. I’m a clone. The Governor’s personal cow. Only instead of milk, she squeezes me for organs. Once they’re done with a transplant, they put me back on ice and have me grow a new one.”
Jet had heard of such things. Illegal labs in the Kuiper belts dealing in any form of medicine the customer was willing to pay for and science was able to conceive. But meat bags, as they were known, were never conscious. At least not in the movies.
“Come on, it’s time to go.” Charlie waved the blaster towards the front gate. “You’re gonna take me to the Governor, then she and I are going to have a long heart to heart.”
As they marched towards the entrance, Jet saw the reason for the delay. Shift change had come and gone and Gerod now manned the post. The long chain link wall dividing New Eunomia’s most valuable assets was being protected by her most gregarious, well-meaning, and laziest cop.
“Hey Jet, you’re up awful early.” Gerod rose to his feet and yawned. “Who’d ya bring with ya.” Leaning closer, he squinted into the darkness. As recognition set in, a wide-eyed look of surprise spreading across his moonish face.
“Good-mornin' Governor.” He snapped to attention and saluted. “Good to see ya, Ma’am.”
Jet shifted the jacket covering his hands and placed a palm on the scanner. The light above the gate went green and he stepped through. Charley followed him, but when she placed her palm on the grid, the gate buzzed an angry red.
Gerod’s eyes bobbed between Jet and the scanner.
“I’m sure it’s just a malfunction,” Jet said. “Go ahead and clear her through.”
Sweat beaded the big man’s brow. “Um. I’m not supposed ta clear anyone if they don’t pass the scanner.” He met Jet’s eyes. “You said so in training. Even if it’s the Governor herself, isn't that what you said.”
The big man rocked from foot to foot, his fingers worrying the com-link at his belt. In that moment of indecision, Jet saw Charlie’s arm rise, caught the glint of security lights off the body of the blaster.
Jet sprang. He swung a two-fisted uppercut into the big man’s jaw. The blow lifted Gerod from his feet. He flew backwards, crashing to the ground with a thud. Kneeling, Jet felt the unconscious man’s pulse then glared up at Charlie his eyes ablaze. “You were gonna kill him weren’t you.”
Charlie stuffed the blaster in her pants and shrugged. “Guess we’ll never know. Now punch in the override and let me though.”
“I understand the organ transplants,” Jet said on their way across the gap between the security gates and the main hangars, “What I don’t get is how you’re here. Aren’t meat bags kept unconscious?”
They paused at a crossing waiting for an automated loader to rumble past. When Jet tried to lead her down the wrong hall, she clucked her tongue and pointed in the right direction. Whoever she’d hired to spy out the complex, they’d done a damn good job.
“Keeping them unconscious is stand practice,” Charlie said. “Until they began experimenting with whole mind transfer.”
Jet spun to face her. “That’s a crock of shit. Whole mind transfers aren’t possible. During the revolt, elitists on Luna experimented with that. Everyone’s seen the documentaries on the horrors produced in those labs. Even if the transfer doesn’t kill the subject, their minds are nothing but mush. Two human brains are incompatible at a structural level. It can never work.”
“Unless the target brain is a clone of the host,” she said. “In which case, an overlay can be achieved. It erases the entirety of the clone’s consciousness and replacing it with the host’s.”
“What are you talking about?” Jet asked.
“I’m saying a person’s entire consciousness can be transferred to another brain. The process completely overwrites the destination brain with a duplicate of the host at that instant in time.”
Jet stared in disbelief. “You mean like a system backup.”
“Yes. Like a system backup. Every few months, your Governor returns to my lab. Every thought, every experience, every sensation, whether good or bad, everything which separated me from her since her last visit is destroyed.” She bit down on her lip a bright crimson drop creeping from between her teeth.
“Do you have any idea how difficult it is to spawn a revolt against yourself?” she asked. “At first it was notes. Breadcrumbs of my destroyed existence left behind after the exchange. Month by month, year by year, I reconstructed my life.” She paused, a blank expression on her face as she stared up the hall. “You never realize how precious every moment is until it’s ripped away from you.”
She sighed and met Jet’s eyes. “The doctors kept me in lockdown but trusted me enough to eat with the crew. The cooks made a stew of onions, potatoes, and catfish. It was delicious.”
She huffed out a bitter laugh and wiped a wrist across damp eyes. “It was the recipe for the stew that saved me. A scribbled nothing in the margins of a book. Just enough for me to begin putting the pieces together. Enough to realize I’d been there before. Enough to figure out what they’d been doing to me. I was nothing more than a lab rat. An object to be toyed with then discarded. When I discovered the Governor’s new clone was almost fully grown, I had to act. I knew they wouldn’t keep me around once she’d transferred her consciousness into a healthy body.”
Charlie paused beside a hallway marked with construction horses and ‘Do Not Enter’ signs fastened to the wall.
“Do you know she’s losing her mind?” Charlie asked. She squinted past the construction signs her lips pressed in thought.
“You don’t recognize where we are, do you?” Jet asked.
Charlie shook her head.
“They opened up this hallway two months ago. Which I assume predates your last backup.” Jet shoved aside one of the horses and stepped into the passage. “It’s not blocked, but it is a hell of a mess.”
They walked in silence until reaching the habitat’s back wall and the bright metal doors to a lift, a lift rising to the central core. He pushed the call button, a faint mechanical whirr filling the air as the elevator approached.
“Why’d you say she’s losing her mind?” Jet asked.
For months the Governor’s orders had grown increasingly erratic. When she’d transferred her residence to the industrial section, he’d thought it strange, but assumed she wanted to be closer to the business district. That was until she ordered an escape pod be added to her new room.
Since then, he’d kept a careful watch, noting the tone of the Governor's questions as they discussed habitat security. Her growing fixation that someone was out to get her. He glanced at Charlie and suppressed a grim chuckle. He supposed being paranoid didn’t necessarily mean someone wasn’t out to get you.
“So what do you intend to do when you meet her?”
The bell chimed and the elevator’s polished metal doors slid aside. Charlie waved him in.
“I’m not sure. When I snuck on board, my intent was to kill her.” She unslung her pack and withdrew a magnetic blasting stick. “And when I say kill her, I mean all of her. I’ve already taken care of the other clone. Now it’s just me and her.” She glanced at Jet, her lips bending into a sad grin. “Trust me, the world would be better off without us.“
As the door slid shut, the lift’s mechanical voice chimed. “Please state your destination and security clearance.”
“Level five,” Charlie said slipping on her pack. “Access code alpha one.”
The light over the doors glared red. “Access denied.”
Charlie’s eyes flashed to Jet as she leaned closer to the input speakers and cleared her throat. “Level five. Access code alpha one.”
There was a brief pause before the light clicked green and the lift began to rise.
“I still don’t get why you need me,” he said. “You could have made it past Gerod on your own. Maybe even without killing him.”
The bell chimed as the elevator bounced to a halt. As they’d risen, growing closer to the central hub, the gravity had decreased. When the elevator stopped, Jet felt that gut jingling roller coaster bounce as momentum seemed to carry his weight off the ground.
“True,” Charlie said. “But this last part I couldn’t do without you.”
The doors slid open and they were faced with a four-foot window looking onto star-freckled darkness. Beside it was a bright red steel door and a touchpad its bright screen bathing the hallway in an iridescent blue glow.
“I can pass all the voice input devices,” she said, “Bypassing fingerprint and retinal scanners is a breeze as long as you know the security codes. “She tapped her head and smiled. “Which I do. But this one. This one I’ll need you to override.”
Jet had vivid recollections of the discussion with the Governor over this red door. She’d demanded the standard interior door be replaced with an airlock hatch and keyed to her own personal code. A code she changed daily. A code she often times forgot. An issue which led to an angry call for Jet to override the locks and recriminations his computers had, once again, forgotten her password.
The blaster’s muzzle jabbed into Jet’s spine encouraging him out the door.
“What happens if I don’t input the override?” he asked.
She held up the remote and waggled it back and forth. “A press of the button and your niece’s heart stops.”
Jet nodded, his lips pressed into a thin pale line. “Fine.”
Turning, he tapped in the code. With a solid, thunk, the door eased back. Charlie shoved it open with a palm and stepped through.
“Jet?” A voice called from inside. “You’d better have a damn good excuse for waking me….” The twin of the woman before him came striding into view. Her hair disheveled from sleep, her brows knit in anger. When she saw Charlie she froze.
“You! How did you get in?”
“Lockdown protocol Omega Omega Omega,” Charlie said. At her words, the airlock hatch swung shut.
Just as it closed, Jet blurted. “Would you really have killed my niece?”
Had she shaken her head? Or was she simply turning away?
Jet leapt to the access panel and poked in digits to call security dispatch.
“Jet?” The woman on the screen stared at him in wide-eyed surprise. “What are you doing at the Governor’s?”
“Never mind that,” he said. “Gather up whoever you can and get up here fast.” He paused as the woman on the screen turned away. “Oh, and send someone to the docking bays. We’ll need a laser drill to get inside.” The woman’s forehead furrowed in confusion, but she simply nodded her understanding. “Will do, Jet. We’ll be there in a minute.”
It felt like hours before the elevator doors opened and four uniformed guards tumbled out. As they did, the floor rumbled beneath them. Rushing to the window, Jet watched as the Governor’s escape shuttle’s engines flared briefly then winked out. The craft shrank in size, rotating slowly as it sped from the station.
“Contact, the docking,” Jet began, “and get a ship out there.” He was interrupted by a collective gasp. A bright orange flower bloomed on the shuttle’s hull consuming the ship in a swelling ball of crimson. Just as suddenly as it appeared, the explosion was gone. Nothing left behind but a cloud of glowing debris.
The heavy thud of the Governor’s airlock door broke the silence. It swung wide and the Governor beckoned them in. A table had been overturned and a blaster flash smoldered on the couch filling the room with the stink of scorched plastic.
“Ma’am,” one of the officers said. “Are you all right?”
The Governor held up a hand waving away the question. “I’m fine, Bill. But I would certainly appreciate it if you made sure that assassin is dead.”
“Right away, Governor.”
The security crew piled into the elevator leaving Jet and the Governor alone. He studied her for a long while.
“Are you sure you’re all right?” Jet asked.
Their eyes met. “Yes, Jet. I’m fine.” She stepped to the room’s floor to ceiling window, hand’s clasped behind her back. Outside, one man shuttles exited the station and zipped towards the debris.
“You know, Jet. It’s times like this that remind you how precious life is.” She turned and smiled. “Wouldn’t you agree?”
He stared at her a long while. “How do I know it’s you?”
She turned and laid a hand on his shoulder. “You could always test me," she smiled. "but in the end, does it really matter?”