Chapter 36 snippet (and major character change...)
The long walk to the base was done in silence. She really didn’t have anything to say to Loving. Loving hadn’t tried to get caught; their opponents had just outmatched them both. That was something she should have expected, given the missiles launched at them.
Sometimes, she reflected, she had to really tone down her arrogance…yes that was the right word. The feelings of superiority she had since her time on Necko just wasn’t the right emotion to have. All it did was get her into positions that she couldn’t get herself out of.
Shaking her head, she wondered if this was one of the lessons that Brown and company wanted her to learn. Did the Universe want her to realize that she wasn’t an unbeatable, omnipotent controller? That what she wanted didn’t always have to come true?
As she trundled forwards, she thought about the concept more. Maybe she needed to stop being such an arrogant bitch. Yeah, she told herself, she had come out and said it. To go charging into a situation, all guns blazing, seemed to be her modus operation. And what had it gotten her for her efforts?
The loss of my eyes and limbs for starters, she thought, several of Albright’s scientists killed. Bartlett Castle’s daughter and then him killed because I drug him into my battle with Albright’s mercs. Oh, it’s definitely cost me a lot!
She let her mind wander back to her lost friends. As she heard the snow crunching under her feet, the faces of people she loved crossed her mind’s eye. Was she really this arrogant, or was she hiding something different? Did this disguise a hidden desire by her to try to die?
Pursing her lips under her mask, she came to a startling conclusion. Everything she did came from guilt of having survived! Why had she been able to keep living while everyone she loved died? Patricia and Johnny had died, while she lived…why? The grenade Ferini’s guard threw should have killed her, but it didn’t. She somehow survived, even at the loss of her limbs, to live another day.
Yet my friends didn’t get that chance, she chided, nor did that ensign back on the Roanoke…
If it weren’t for all the gear on her head, she would’ve run her hands through her hair. Each of them had died to keep her alive, she reflected, and why they chose that was simple. They had done it because they had loved her and didn’t want her to die. What would they say to her now that she was trying to get herself killed at every turn? And doing it if only to try to make up for some poor decision made that caused someone else to die?
Beneath her mask, she felt a tear run from both eyes. The blustery wind turned it into ice on her face before it made its way down her cheek. No matter how cold it made her, she refused to move to remove her. This was a time of decision, she told herself, a time or catharsis, and she wouldn’t remove the signs of it.
Holding her head high, she found herself making a decision. There would be no more hell-bent for leather moves made any more. She didn’t need to die to honor those friends of hers who had died for her. The best way to honor them, she told herself, was to keep her alive, to achieve her destiny.
And to help mankind in their time of need-even at the cost of my own life, she thought, feeling pride rise in her chest for the first time in ages.
She looked over at Loving, who had been watching her. Worry was in the eyes of her old-friend. Smiling at her, she wished there were the words to let her know the decision she had made. This, she told herself, was going to be something that just was going to have to be shown rather then explained.
“Are you okay, Kate?”
“Never been better,”
“Are you sure? We’re probably heading for our deaths.”
“That isn’t going to happen,”
“Are you out of your mind? We’ve got nearly twenty people guarding us, and they’re taking us to their base!”
“Don’t worry! I’m not going to do something stupid anymore; I’m beyond that now. But dying isn’t what’s going to happen to us.”
The lead guard pulled a device out of his pocket. Clicking a button, section of the base appeared out of the snowy surface. So they had been using a stealth screen, she surmises, stowing the information away for later. The guards surrounding them pointed their rifles at the two of them, while the leader motioned for them to step forwards.
“Now that you offer,” she muttered. “How can we refuse?”
They stepped through a force field into a massive hanger. Stretching off into the distance, she noted the balcony that filled the second level. As they moved closer to the far end, a door on the upper level opened up and several men stepped out.
While she didn’t recognize the first three, the fourth one made her heart stop. It couldn’t be, she thought! How could he still be alive, she had seen him die with her own eyes! This wasn’t possible, was it?
“Hello, Katherine,” Christopher Albright said. “It’s nice to see you again old friend…”
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