Thirty (part 4)

Brendan matched his smile, eyes sliding shut as he reached for Lindsay.  He felt her surprise as their minds touched, then relief flooded through him—relief that wasn’t his, but hers.

Where are you? She wondered at him.

On base, at Ops with Marshal Windsor. Is Rachel with you? Where are you?

            He saw through her eyes for a brief moment—they were in the shelter secreted in the caves beneath the Council House, and she wasn’t alone.  He caught a glimpse of Rachel, Mugabe, Marshal Rose, and a few others with them.  Safe enough, Lindsay’s voice whispered in his thoughts.  We were waiting for Kara to get here when the sirens started.  Is it bad?

Brendan glanced toward the displays.  We’re not sure yet.  Sent the lead on the CAP to be our eyes.  Sit tight and I’ll give you the all-clear when it’s safe.

Be careful.

He smiled.  Always.

Windsor was watching him when he came back to himself.  Brendan drew a deep breath and exhaled it slowly.  “They’re both safe,” he reported.  “They’re in the shelter beneath the Council House.  Marshal Rose is with them.”

“What about Freder?”  Windsor asked, then winced slightly, casting a quick glance around.  Though Frederick Rose’s survival was something now known to some of the Council and to Inspector Winston, it wasn’t common knowledge and they were still aiming to keep it that way—despite the man’s daily peregrinations.

No one seemed to have heard the question—and if they had, they ignored it.  Brendan frowned.  “I didn’t catch a glimpse and she didn’t say.  I could—”

“No,” he said.  “No, that’s not necessary.  I’m sure he’s found his way to shelter, too.  The Inspector?”

“Don’t know,” Brendan said. “But he usually—”  He stopped and swore.  “He goes down to the shore every morning to look at the ocean.  It reminds him of when he was growing up.”  He started heading for the door.

“Where are you going?”  Windsor called after him.

“To find the inspector,” Brendan said, already halfway to the lift.  “He doesn’t know enough.  He’ll get himself killed and then where the hell will we be?  Someone in Parliament will find a way to blame it on us.”  He held up his link as he climbed into the lift.  “I’ll be on comm.  Yell if you need me.”

Brendan’s heart thundered against his ribcage as the lift doors eclipsed his view of Windsor’s horrified expression.

This is bad and I’m not going to make it in time, am I?

            Well.  I won’t know until I try.

The lift hit the top ground level and he bolted out of it as soon as the doors sprang open, ignoring the startled looks of the staff officers rushing around.

There won’t be much time, either way, depending on what their plans actually are, how many they’ve sent—enough that it tripped the alarms, enough that they’re probably trying to hide their numbers.  He swallowed bile again.

How long can you keep up a dead run, Cho?

            As long as it takes.

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