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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 107: Slade 35
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 106: Hastings 37
Slade had never seen the inside of a prison before, but this looked like all the ones he had seen on television. He stood for a moment, looking at rows of cells on multiple levels.
"Let's get to work," George said, popping his lock picks into the lock. "Phil," he said on his com, "looks like I'm on Deck B row 12 main. Clear it, please."
"I'm on it," Phil replied. "Where's Slade?"
"I'm going to start in the same row; we'll work the doors on opposite sides, and that way if one of us has trouble with one, the other can give it a shot."
"Sounds like a good way to up the odds. But when you find a couple of others to help with the locks, you'll have to split up so that you've got communicators with each group."
"I've got a question," Slade ventured. "Shouldn't there be guards or something here?"
There was silence. George was looking around, and then shrugged.
"My guess," Toni cut in from the ship, "is that they were hoping to lure us into the prisoner section and then blow the atmosphere. Tom and John can't call from the warden's office, but they must have stopped him from doing that. Anyway, their security system shows no guards anywhere outside the control room"
"Unless they're dressed as prisoners," Phil suggested.
George and Slade stared at the cells for a moment; there was no way to know who was who here, so they were just going to have to release everyone and hope they knew each other.
So they began opening cells, sending most prisoners to the prisoner transport barge, looking for a couple who could help them pick the locks and a few others to fly the ship. Slade opened more locks than he could count, although he thought he failed more times than he succeeded. Still, he succeeded several times in opening locks where George had failed, so he didn't feel entirely incompetent. Besides, he got more practice opening locks in that one day than he'd had since Filp first taught him more than twenty years before.
Once they had control of the prison, it took several hours to open all the cells and move all the prisoners to the transport, but eventually it was done. The transport was loaded, and Slade and George found their way to central control. Burly reported that he had found a remote navigation system installed in the transport, and disabled it; but it had seemed to him too obvious, so he guessed it was the thing he was supposed to find. Carefully checking the diagnostics systems, he traced a fault in the engines. They had been designed to explode when pushed. He rebuilt the flow controls and added a limiter, so it should have no problem reaching the rendezvous ships being sent for them. He'd also disabled their tracers, so the Federation wouldn't know where they were.
Satisfied that everything was in order, Banson called The Destiny.
"We're ready to come back," he said.
"We overlooked one thing," Toni answered. "We can't reach the captain or Tom."
"Can't reach them? Oh, right--they're in that shielded room. Well, I guess one of us will have to go down and let them know we're done."
"I'll do that," George offered.
"I'll go with you," Slade said.
"Take the others back," Ishara said. "Something isn't right. I'm going with them."
"I'll wait until we hear from you," Phil said. "Toni? Take Burly back. Marilyn and I will stay in control here until we know the captain is all right."
"Right," came the reply, and the engineer vanished. The threesome walked out of control toward the captain's office.
The door to the captain's office was closed. George called, and Tom answered.
"Get us out of here!" came Tom's muffled voice.
"What are you talking about?" said George.
"It was a trap. The controls for the locks on this side were all disabled and removed. We can't get out."
"That doesn't sound good," Slade said.
"What about Kotari?" George called.
"He decided his job was more important than his life," John's voice answered.
Ishara smiled. "That means he tried to evacuate the air, and John stopped him."
"Then I guess we've got to get them out," George said, looking at Slade. "You do the physical lock, I'll work on the code panel."
Ishara interrupted. "George, maybe you should do the lock and the code. I think Slade and I are going to be a bit busy." And looking down the hall, Slade saw men in prison uniforms drawing blasters even as Ishara fired at them.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #61: World Transitions. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: