Raena touched the journalist’s shoulder. “Get up,” she said quietly. “Trouble’s on its way.”
Mellix slung the covers back and sat up. “I don’t have a spacesuit,” he protested.
“You won’t need one.” She handed him the glass of water from the stack of books. He drank it without question. Raena took his compliance as a token of his faith in Mykah.
“Where are the kiisas?” he asked, his voice loud in the quiet darkness.
“Already packed up,” Raena promised.
He finished the glass of water, handed it back to her empty. She could see his eyes already glazing over. He snuggled back into bed.
“Oh, no, you don’t.” Raena picked him up and carried him back into the front room. She nudged back the lid to the kiisas’ crate and settled Mellix down amongst his pets. He mumbled something in protest, but she ignored him. She latched the lid down and switched on the crate’s atmosphere and gravity. All the telltales blinked a happy blue. She grabbed a roll of slave cloth and muffled the lights.
Time to move fast. She pulled the spacesuit’s helmet on over her head, latched it, and switched on its heads-up displays. She double-checked all the seals and toggled on the pressurization. Then she clambered up atop one of the stacks of crates. The gap between the top crate and the ceiling wasn’t large enough for her to sit up in. Good thing she wasn’t claustrophobic any longer.
She switched on the mask that canceled out the hiss of her breathing, so that all she could hear was the steady, solid thump of her heart. Once she was settled, she threw a book at the wall control, so she could admire the view.
She hit the wall control on the first try. The guy setting the charge outside the window jumped back when the window screen went up in front of him. He lost his purchase on the station. Lucky for him, he was tethered to the next guy in line.
That struck Raena as a good idea. Moving slowly, she unzipped another of her suit’s tethers and fastened it to the box she lay atop.
An impressive number of rifles were trained on the window. Raena wasn’t sure if they could see in, but she was comfortable where she was. Eventually everyone outside relaxed and stepped back into place. They got the initial bomber reeled back in and he got back to work.
There seemed to be an exorbitant number of charges, Raena thought. If they were terrorists, laying down terrorist-sized explosives, this whole side of the station would be rubble, including the honor guard outside. That suggested that instead these were professionals, setting up tiny charges: enough to pop open the window while doing minimal damage to the expensive real estate nearby. Raena wondered if someone had already closed the blast doors around Mellix’s apartment, sealing them in.
The pest control crew seemed unnecessarily large to capture one pacifist squirrel. Even if they were armed to take down two humans, Coni, and Vezali as well, they were still massively overstaffed. Either they didn’t know the kids had gone clubbing, or they thought that Vezali’s crates had been full of weapons. Either option pointed suspicion away from Capital City’s Security Force. Raena breathed deep in relief. Her borrowed Stinger wasn’t going to fend off the station’s private army.
The crew outside all stepped away from the window. Raena spread out to hug the crate beneath her, trying to relax.
The window popped. Everything in the room got sucked out into space. There was a chaos of klaxons and debris and flashing red lights. Showtime.
Raena waited until the boxes she was strapped to rotated. Half the team had gone into the apartment. The other half waited outside, rifles at the ready. The demolition crew was already packing up their equipment and getting ready to walk back to the maintenance hatch where they’d come out of the station.
She was moving away from them fast, but it didn’t take long for them to establish that the apartment was unoccupied. She watched the helmets turn in her direction.
The Stinger was a sporting weapon, meant for hunting in atmosphere. It would fire in space, but its range was limited. She waited for them to come to her. Once she began to fire, she would have no cover.
Ten soldiers. She counted them down, firing at rocket packs, guns, boots. These were just guys, doing a job. No need to kill them, if she could dissuade them. Besides, Mellix hadn’t wanted her to do them any permanent damage.
Unfortunately, her initial judgment had been correct. These were professionals. Those that could returned fire.
Raena flung herself forward, changing the momentum of the crates she was strapped to. The whole set of them started to tumble.
She got the Stinger up and ready, because when the boxes came around, she really was going to have nowhere to hide.
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