“So what do we do?”
He’s quiet a moment. “Can you swim?”
“We can’t just jump in the ocean, Kenji—”
“Well it’s not like we can fly.”
“Maybe we can fight them?”
“Are you out of your goddamn mind? You think we can take on two hundred soldiers? I know I am an extremely attractive man, J, but I am not Bruce Lee.”
“Who’s Bruce Lee?”
“Who’s Bruce Lee?” Kenji asks, horrified. “Oh my God. We can’t even be friends anymore.”
“Why? Was he a friend of yours?”
“You know what,” he says, “just stop. Just—I can’t even talk to you right now.”
“Then how are we supposed to get inside?”
“Shit if I know. How are we supposed to get all those guys off the ship?”
“Oh,” I gasp. “Oh my God. Kenji—” I grab his invisible arm.
“Yeah, that’s my leg, and you’re cutting it a little too close there, princess.”
“Kenji, I can shove them off,” I say, ignoring him. “I can just push them into the water. Will that work?”
“Well?” I ask.
“Your hand is still on my leg.”
“Oh.” I jerk back. “So? What do you think? Will it work?”
“Obviously,” Kenji says, exasperated. “Do it now, please. And hurry.”
So I do.
I stand back and pull all my energy up and into my arms.
I move my arm through the air like I might be clearing off a table.
And all the soldiers topple into the water.
It looks almost comical from here. Like they were a bunch of toys I was pushing off my desk. And now they’re bouncing in the water, trying to figure out what’s just happened.
“Let’s go,” Kenji says suddenly, grabbing my arm. We’re darting forward and down the hundred-foot pier. “They’re not stupid,” he says. “Someone is going to sound the alarm and they’re going to seal the doors soon. We’ve probably got a minute before it all goes on lockdown.”
So we’re bolting.
We’re racing across the pier and clambering up, onto the deck, and Kenji pulls on my arm to tell me where to go. We’re becoming so much more aware of each other’s bodies now. I can almost feel his presence beside me, even though I can’t see him.
“Down here,” he shouts, and I look down, spotting what looks like a narrow, circular opening with a ladder affixed to the inside. “I’m going in,” he says. “Start climbing down in five seconds!”
I can hear the alarms already going off, sirens wailing in the distance. The ship is steady against the dock, but the water in the distance goes on forever, disappearing into the edge of the earth.
My five seconds are up.
I’m climbing after him.
I have no idea where Kenji is.
It’s cramped and claustrophobic down here and I can already hear a rush of footsteps coming toward me, shouts and cries echoing down the hall; they must know something has happened above deck. I’m trying really hard not to panic, but I’m no longer sure what the next step should be.
I never anticipated doing this alone.
I keep whispering Kenji’s name and hoping for a response, but there’s nothing. I can’t believe I’ve already lost him. At least I’m still invisible, which means he can’t be more than fifty feet away, but the soldiers are too close for me to take any chances right now. I can’t do anything that would draw attention to my presence—or Kenji’s.
So I have to force myself to stay calm.
The problem is I have no idea where I am. No idea what I’m looking at. I’ve never even been on a boat before, much less an army ship of this magnitude.
But I have to try and understand my surroundings.
I’m standing in the middle of what looks like a very long hallway; wooden panels run across the floors, the walls, and even the low ceiling above my head. There are little nooks every few feet, where the wall seems to be scooped out.
They’re for doors, I realize.
I wonder where they lead. Where I’ll have to go.
Boots are thundering closer now.
My heart starts racing and I try to shove myself against the wall, but these hallways are too narrow; even though they can’t see me, there’s no way I’d be able to slip past them. I can see a group approaching now, can hear them barking orders at one another. At any moment they’re going to slam right into me.
I shift backward as fast as I can and run, keeping my weight on my toes to minimize sound as much as possible. I skid to a stop. Hit the wall behind me. More soldiers are bolting down the halls now, clearly alerted to something, and for a second I feel my heart fail. I’m so worried about Kenji.
But as long as I’m invisible, Kenji must be close, I think. He must be alive.
I cling to this hope as the soldiers approach.
I look to my left. Look to my right. They’re closing in on me without even realizing it. I have no idea where they’re headed—maybe they’re going back up, outside—but I have to make a move, fast, and I don’t want to alert them to my presence. Not yet. It’s too soon to try to take them out. I know Alia promised I could sustain a bullet wound as long as my power is on, but my last experience with being shot in the chest has left me traumatized enough to want to avoid that option as much as possible.
So I do the only thing I can think of.
I jump into one of the doorways and plant my hands against the inside of the frame, holding myself in place, my back pressed against the door. Please please please, I think, please don’t let there be someone in this room. All anyone has to do is open the door and I’ll be dead.
The soldiers are getting closer.
I stop breathing as they pass.
One of their elbows grazes my arm.
My heart is pounding, so hard. As soon as they’re gone I dart out of the doorway and bolt, running down halls that only lead into more halls. This place is like a maze. I have no idea where I am, no idea what’s happening.
Not a single clue where I’ll find Anderson.
And the soldiers won’t stop coming. They’re everywhere, all at once and then not at all, and I’m turning down corners and spinning in different directions and trying my best to outrun them. But then I notice my hands.