Breed Book 4, Part 25


“You should have left me,” Mahmoud said, halfway to tears. He couldn’t be sure if it was because he was worried about his friends, or because for the first time in way too long he could feel the ocean breeze through his hair, feel the warmth of the sun on his skin.

“Obviously that wasn’t happening,” Rox said. “And if we’d known you were there, it wouldn’t have taken us this long to come for you. I’m sorry for that.”  

“I’m going to be sick,” he said, doubling over.

“Yeah, ocean’ll do that to you,” Sonya said, “and Ben.” Ben was still bent over the side of the ship, throwing up loudly. But he raised his middle finger back at her.

“No,” Mahmoud shook his head, “at the thought of anything happening to you. Any of you.”

“Even Ben?” Sonya asked.

“Well, we’ve had years of feeling sick over what happened to you, and I guarantee that would pale if we left you in that hole a second longer than we had to.”

“Sorry to interrupt,” Anita said, “but I need a minute. Mahmoud seems to be the most lucid of the technopaths. And I have to ask.”

“I can’t shut down their communications,” he said. “They have redundancies built in, which probably wouldn’t be enough, if I didn’t feel cross-eyed and stoned, and like I’ve spent years chained up in a basement having my nuts stomped in- wait…”

“Figured they weren’t going to make it easy to keep the genie in the bottle. I just wanted an update.”

“They can’t come for us by sea- seem to have had trouble with their shipyard. They’ve got drone support, but haven’t been able to get permission to go weapons hot; seems like even they don’t know how many of us are U.S. citizens. But they’re shadowing us from the coast, close enough they’ll hit the beach within minutes of when we do. And we may be lucky if the boats make it that far.”

“Why’s that?”

“They’re overloaded, and straining.”

“Damnit,” Rox said. “Rui?”

He jumped up from where he was sitting next to Ben, who was still vomiting loudly. “Yeah, boss?”

“I need you airborne. Start air-lifting people to the beach. Start with our people, Tso first. Disrupt the roads if you can. Sonya? ‘Nita. See if anybody else here can fly, teleport or otherwise move people to the beach. We need as much of a head start as we can get.”

“I thought we were home free once we hit the beach,” Anita said.

“Legally, yeah. But since when has that ever stopped the US Army?”

“Speaking of government folk, did we leave Laren behind? While that might be funny, I’d feel a little bad… that I didn’t get to throw a pie in her face before we left.”

“She said she made other arrangements.”

“And you were going to tell us when?” Anita asked.

“She only told me when we landed. It was go or no go, at that point. We were going. I didn’t figure you’d just want to wait for us. Besides, you’re the last person who can complain about compartmentalizing- unless you’re ready to lay all of your cards on the table.” “Fair point.”

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