This Week's Special
Location: Security Holding Cells
Mack needed a way out of her cell so she could get to the ventilation shaft and out of the clutches of the purple bellies. But how? Mack knew that if she didn't get out, Carnahan was going to run her through a sham of a trial and then execute her... if he even bothered with a trial. The anxiety Mack was feeling over being totally powerless had her nearly doubling over from the knots in her stomach. Wait... stomach... yeah, that could work. Better yet... where the Hell was her appendix again? Right. Lower right side of the abdomen. If they didn't think it was her appendix, maybe they'd think it was an obstruction or just plain food poisoning. She had just eaten hill william roadkill stew not long before.
Mack paced for a bit and then began to act as though she was started to have some problem in her abdomen. Then she began to double over and she moaned. Softly at first, then louder, then she began to cry out and call for help.
"Please! Somethings wrong! The pain! I can't take it! Please, for pity's sake! If you want me to live long enough to put on trial, I need medical attention, RFN!" she shouted, then started in on moaning and wailing again. "Ahhh! Ohh! Oh God! PLEASE HELP ME!!!"
Well, Mack thought. If they don't think I'm dying, maybe they'll think I'm having a massive orgasm and come in her to watch?
It took a while, but finally the door opened and a younger alliance officer stepped through, his gun leveled on Mack. "What's going on in here? Are you alright?" he asked. An astoundingly dense question to ask of a woman doubled over screaming, but asked it her did. He moved closer keeping his rifle fixed on her. "What kind of assistance do you require?" he asked, again oblivious to how ridiculous it sounded. He looked at the pain on Mack's face and briefly began to point the tip of his gun away from her. "I am calling for help. Hold on." he stated.
"Dispatch, this is AT-45242. I have a prisoner in acute distress in the interrogation room. Requesting medical assistance. No sir, I think they actually need it. No sir. I don't think they can flee anywhere at the moment. Yes sir." he spoke into the mic mounted tot he shoulder of his body armor.
"Help is coming. Try to remain calm!" he ordered to Mack as he took a step back to await the arrival of the medical detail. "It's going to be alright. You are ok." he said in as reassuring a manner as he could.
"Oh, God!" Mack moaned. "Thank you!" Mack continued to watch and wait for her moment as she put on the performance of her life.
THe trooper kept his rifle poised on Mack as he waited. Time seemed to take an eternity, but finally a pair of medical technicians came through the door with a gurney. One tech immediately went to Mack and started checking her vitals. The trooper kept guard over the situation, but his rifle was not immediately pointed at Mack while the med tech was with her.
If they strap me to that gurney, I'm toast, Mack thought. And if they get me to medical, I'll have an even harder time getting out without killing anyone. It's now or never. Gotta take out that gun first...
In a flash, Mack jabbed her thumbs, one thumb for each medic, into the medics' throats. Not hard enough to crush the trachea, just hard enough to make them gag and gasp for a bit. They'd feel like crap for a few days, but they'd survive. Then Mack, with barely a pause, charged the guard, trapping his weapon between them. She hit the man amidships and slammed him through the door, into the wall. She managed to drop the clip and clear the chamber of his rifle while they were struggling. Then she kneed him in the groin and flung him into the cell. She shut the door, locking the three in, and then was in the air vent and headed out.
The fit was tight, but Mack was able to wedge herself into the small ventilator shaft that immediately climbed upward through the walls. It wouldnt take long to discover where she had gone, but few in full battle armor were going to fit in here.
The vent moved up to the ceiling and then horizontally over what she was fairly sure was the squad briefing room. as she slowly made her progress forward, she could hear commotion in the security center.
"She can't just disappear, find her!" a voice shouted.
"We think she may be in the walls, sir."
"Well get a scanning unit in here! its like the lot of you have never worked a manhunt before."
Up ahead as the vent left the squad room, it broke into a chute going up and one to the left.
Mack pulled out her stylus/com. "I'm in the vent," Mack said quietly. She didn't whisper. Whispers carried farther than soft, quiet talking. "I think I'm over the briefing room. Left or right? Non-verbal response only. Key mic once for left, twice for right."
Scarlett keyed her mic twice. "Understood," Mack replied in the same soft voice. "Moving."
Mack moved quietly through the ventilation shaft until she came to a spot where it split again, this time straight, right, left, and up. Using a similar code of mic keying, Mack communicated with Scarlett, then climbed upward.
"Now what?" Mack asked Scarlett softly over the stylus mic after arriving a level up from Security and quite a ways over.
"I take it you are clear of the security center. Good job on getting out. Make sure you train your staff how to keep that from happening in the future." Scarlet replied with a slight hint of humor. "We need to get you to somewhere secure. I'm monitoring the main security cortex, it looks like they are starting an organized search spreading down to Deck 7. I guess they think you are looking for somewhere to hide. Its a good thing the minister chose to take up security with his own personnel, they don't have anywhere near the man power to cover a station of this size with anything but token look outs.
By my schematics you need to crawl about another 100 feet forward, you should reach a junction in the vent. There is a maintenance hatch you should be able to get through. That will put you in the service conduit. It will be a tight squeeze but if you can get in we can get you to the central engineering shaft at the center of the station. Be careful, gravity gets a little random as you approach the core."
"Affirmative," Mack replied. "Moving."
Mack made her way the 100 feet to the junction. She grimaced as gravity around her fluctuated. After a bit of a struggle, Mack got the maintenance hatch open and crawled through it to the central engineering shaft.
"At the shaft," she said after she keyed her mic. "Where to next? The Petrovich enclave? One of my constables should have hidden my gear with Old Man Petrovich. I feel kind of naked without it."
The central shaft stretched out below Mack as she pulled herself from the cramped maintenance conduit. The heat and humidity from the core washed over her. The shaft around her plunged down to the bottom of the station. Automated lifts and robotic arms moved up and down the shaft keeping the area in as peak readiness as possible with the aged machinery.
"Ok Mack, you need to make your way across the access catwalk running to the reactor housing. You should find a ladder there that you will need to climb up to Deck 2. It's a little dicey looking, but it should keep you off any station sensors." Scarlett related over the earpiece.
Catwalk was not really accurate. It appeared more as a pipe reaching out over the void to the central core. It had a small plank that could be used for foot holds. The general humidity of the core made stepping onto the crossing slippery at best. The cramped air ducts were starting to look more attractive in comparison.
"I swear," Mack said as she started to make her way across the precarious 'catwalk'. "If the backlash wouldn't outweigh the pleasure I'd get, I'd murder Carnahan... very, very slowly. Death of a Thousand Cuts, and I'd save half of those for removing his genitals."
There was a lot of quiet foul language, even a few words that might make Xiulan blush, as Mack worked her way across. She lost her footing more than once. If she'd been less physically able, less nimble, she'd have fallen, likely to her death. She breathed a sigh of relief when she got across and then used the ladder to climb up and through to Deck 2.
"On Deck 2," she said. "Now what?"
The comm sparked to life again in her ear. "Glad you made it up. The Core can get a little dicey, especially if you are drunk, but another story for another time. There is a maintenance hatch toward the outside wall next to the A/C blowers. If you go through those you will be in the service cooridors along the center of the retail level. Store names should be clearly marked on the doors... If you can get into the Tensing Momo, There should be someone waiting for you near the rear elevators."
Mack sighed. "AC blowers, huh? I don't suppose you managed to stash a down jacket up here for me?" she said. "Don't answer that. You'll just get me all depressed. Moving now."
As quick as she could, Mack made her way to the aforementioned AC blowers. She was shivering by the time she dropped into the service corridor. She warily moved through the corridor, senses alert for any sign of a purple belly. Hopefully, if Mack ran into a Fed, it would be of Carnahan's stormtroopers, and not one of the deputy marshals. There weren't many assigned to the station, but through Alice, Mack knew all of them to say hello and had a good working relationship with them. She'd hate to have to beat the Lā shǐ out of one of them. She'd do it, but it would cause trouble later. Finally, she found the Tensing Momo and entered. Trying to look as inconspicuous as possible in a play where a lot of folks would know exactly who the chief of security was, Mack closed in on the elevators at the back
The hallways were dimmed compared to the usual corridors in the Spa/Hotel. This certainly seemed to work to Mack's advantage, as she was able to avoid most guests and any incidental security roaming the area. The lift doors lay just before her when a voice called out.
"You looking for something chief?" Standing in the shadows was the precisely cut figure hugged in a customs officer uniform. Oksanna held Mack's gun and knife kit in her left hand, dangling it invitingly toward Mack. Her smile was radiant. She lowered the arm holding the gunbelt as she rushed forward to embrace teh security chief.
"I am so glad you are out! But if we want to keep it that way, my family has a guest apartment nearby."
"Come on, she continued, leading the security chief down the hall to an unmarked door off the cooridor.