Chapter 39 (Completely rewritten)

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Finished, she climbed down to the ground. She placed her code back into the fighter, and watched the canopy drop. With a sigh, she stepped out from under the wing…

…And screamed in agony. Suddenly she felt like she was be electrocuted. Racing up her legs, the burning pain started in her arms too. Combining, they tore up her spine to her mind, causing her to black out. Falling, stiff, to the ground, she bloodied her nose on the floor.

Coming to, she felt like her body was on fire. Crying out in agony, her chest heaved. She tried to move her arms, and they wouldn’t move. Trying the same thing with her legs netted the same results. What the hell was happening?

Brooks and Paul were completely stunned. Before they knew it, Kosloski had Kate on her back, his pistol at her head. A wicked smile crossed his face as he looked at them.

“If you would drop your weapons, please,” he said.

Paul dropped his, but Brooks did not. She looked at him with eyes blazing. While she didn’t know what he had just done to Kate, he wasn’t going to get away with it!

“I won’t repeat myself a second time,” he said, cocking his pistol. “If you don’t drop your weapon, I’ll blow the Captain’s brains out.”

Seeing that she had no way of winning, Brooks backed down. With a disgusted sneer, she dropped her rifle to the floor. Kate’s life was most important, she reminded herself.

“If you would be so nice,” Kosloski smiled. “Kick them over here.”

“What did you do to her?” Brooks demanded, kicking her rifle away.

“Oh she’s not hurt,” he said.

The agony had ended for Kate, and she found herself on her back. Licking her lips, her heart raced in her ears. The shutdown codes, she realized, he had the damn codes! That was the only explanation for what had happened!

“The shut down codes,” Paul breathed.

“How did you get those?” Brooks asked.

“I’m a smart man,” Kosloski said, stroking Kate’s hair. “My dear Captain, you had me worried.”

“Why?” Kate rasped, voice croaking.

“Are you okay, Kate?” Brooks said.

“Yeah,” she said. “I just can’t move.”

“I thought I had lost my retirement when you disappeared, Captain,” Kosloski said, never taking an eye off Brooks and Paul.

“Why did you do this, Kosloski?” she asked.

“I’m sorry I had to be so unseemly,” he smiled. “But I needed you compliant to collect my money.”

“What money?”

“That would be what I’m paying to get you back,”

Her blood went cold as she realized who spoke. The genteel was full of malice. Sliming past her fighter, she felt it envelop her in its grip. Her mouth dropped open as she found she could shake her head.

“It can’t be…”

A man stepped out of the shadows, his blue and gold suit glistening. Sandy colored hair and hazel eyes bore into her, making her look away. Approaching her, he had eight guards behind him. He always had believed in overkill, she thought ruefully.

“Oh it’s me, Katie…”

Brooks’ jaw dropped as she realized who was before them. As shocked as Kate was, she was trying to figure how he could be alive. All reports she had read said this man was dead! Yet here he was standing before her!

“You’re dead!” Kate protested.

“Do I look dead to you?” Ferini asked.

“You were even closer to the grenade then I,” she said. “And it should’ve killed me.”

“Well,” he shrugged in a magnanimous gesture. “I did die, but all Game Masters have cerebral downloading so we can be cloned.”

Kneeling beside her, he ran a hand down her cheek. Softly, almost like a lover, he caressed her. Running it over her chin, he traced her other cheek. A growl formed deep in her throat, eyes growing hard.

“Get your dirty hands off me,” she growled.

“The way I see it,” he chuckled. “You’re my property and there isn’t a lot you can do about it.”

“I can kill you again,”

“Now, now, Katie,” he said, wiping a damp bang from her face. “Is that how you speak to your lover?”

Gritting her teeth, she fought to keep from vomiting. Yeah he had been a lover all right, she thought, only if one could call a rapist a ‘lover.’ To repeatedly rape her, while saying he “loved” her, was one hell of a way to try to show you ‘love them,’ she snorted.

“**** you,” she said.

“There will be time for that later,”

She fell silent with the response. Images of her time on Necko flashed through her head. The repeated rapes, things she had forced out of her mind, were replaying like a bad horror movie. Against her will, a single tear wound its way down her cheek.

“Load her up,” he said to his men. “We’re leaving.”

“What about the other two?” They asked.

“They wanted to be part of this,” he shrugged. “Then we can take them with us. They can fight with Almir.”

A look of total shock formed on Brooks’ face. Ferini was going to take them back to Necko? They wouldn’t survive five minutes in the arenas!

Kate looked at her friends, giving them a wink. It would be okay, she thought, because there was no way he was going to keep her there. Too much was happening in the galaxy around them, and she had to try to stop it. No, Necko wouldn’t ever be her home again she could guarantee that.

Two of Ferini’s men loaded her onto a gurney. As they moved her towards his ship, she saw Kosloski. Despite the contempt she felt for him, she knew she had to warn him of the man he was dealing with.

“Don’t trust him,” she said, coldly. “This man can’t be trusted.”

“Speaking of trust,” Kosloski said. “Where’s my money?”

She felt a chill run down her spine at Ferini’s expression. He looked at Kosloski with a half-smile she was familiar with. That was the look he gave people when he was going to kill them, she mused. And with her bionics dead, there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it.

Even if I would help a scumbag like Kosloski, she thought, biting on her bottom lip.

A guard, behind Kosloski, produced a silenced pistol. With a quick pull of the trigger, a .22 bullet entered the smuggler’s head. Kosloski looked at Ferini with a mixture of shock and surprise. Then he toppled forwards onto his face, dead.

Ferini picked up the fallen man’s pocket computer. Everything he needed was in here, he mused, and he hadn’t had to give up his money! A perfect ending to a perfect double-cross!

“I don’t believe you outlived your usefulness, Mister Kosloski,” he chuckled. “But it was so nice of you to give me the plans for the signal repeaters too.

“You’re a bastard, Ferini,” Kate said.

“You’ll learn to love me yet, Katie,” he said. “Because now I will have all the time I need to win your over.”

“Put those two in their own quarters,” he said. “I don’t want them too close to Almir.”

“Yes, sir,”

“What’s going to happen, Kate?” Brooks asked her.

“Welcome to hell,” she said. “Literally.”

###

He watched the double-cross with impassive eyes. So, he mused, Almir was heading back to Necko. This would be most interesting to the Syndicate. Now, they could see her in action, and no one would be the wiser.

Chuckling, he let the information fly back to his superiors. Since no one knew who the Syndicate’s leadership was, they would be able to watch her on Necko with impunity. Sitting in the open, for the world to see, and no one would know them. They would blend in with the rest of the betting crowds.

But now I’ve got to get to Necko
, he thought, frowning. Which will draw some attention here.

Disappearing into the shadows, he opened a com unit. Luckily for him, they had a ship in orbit…

###

Brindle’s face appeared on Reyes’ com system. A single glance made the Admiral groan. Something had gone disastrously wrong, he realized, his hand forming a fist. Couldn’t he buy a break and have things go according to plan just once?

“Sir,” Brindle said, breathlessly. “We have a major problem.”

“What is it, Thad?”

“Kosloski sold Almir out,” he said.

“What?” Reyes groaned.

“She’s on her way back to Necko,” That said. “As we speak,”

“We dead,” Reyes said. “If she dies…”

###

Back on Earth, the sun started to rise. As it’s light shone upon Space Dock, it hit the prototype. It’s black hull shimmered in the sun, threatening…
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