Survivor's Guilt - Page 9

“But before too much could happen, the metal door to the outside . . . screamed, screamed even louder than Jenny, as it was being torn away to let the light in again.” I managed to bring my eyes up to meet hers, reminding myself that I had a plan and it was time to get my happy mask back on. “In retrospect, it wasn't a lot of light really, there was a lot of smoke or something in the air and it hurt to breathe in, but it was still bright enough to sting my eyes, and he was just standing in the middle of it like he was the source of that light.”

“'He' being Tyr,” she interjected.

I nodded. “In full bronze armor with his white horse standing behind him, and I don't know what he really is, but he looked like a god to me at that moment, all chiseled and perfect. 'Come with me. NOW!' he shouted even before we felt the thud of the impact of the door as he tossed it aside.”

I shivered like I was cold before I even started to say, “Then we . . . heard her.”

“Kestrel,” the doc supplied, and I remember wondering at the time if she had flat out memorized my file.

“Yep,” I answered. “The privacy freak that always digitally alters her voice so no one even knows what she sounds like, so I have no idea why she let us hear her.”

I thought I saw the doc's lips twitch into something that might have been a sad smile. “Perhaps she felt it important to give you some time to prepare,” she ventured softly.

“Yeah, that sounds like her,” I agreed. “'Erik,' she said. 'The device is powering up for another salvo at your precise location, and the shields will not hold a second time.'”

“Tyr didn't hesitate, but his eyes took in all four of us. 'Buy me some time,' he commanded.”

“'Impossible,' Kestrel said with no hint of emotion. Maybe the voice scrambler masked something, but I don't think so. 'The sequence is almost complete. Vacate. NOW!' she added, and she managed to make that last bit both an urgent command and a muted plea for compliance, and . . .”

I bit my lip until it bled, but I still couldn't stop myself from talking. “And we all just . . . knew.”

Page 9

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