My chest is heaving, my heart racing, and I look around, feeling the stillness within the madness, blinking hard against the flashing red lights of the alarm, and find that the soldiers do not stir. They’re still alive, I can tell, but they’re unconscious. And I allow myself one instant to look down.
Bullets. Hundreds of bullets. A puddle of bullets. All around my feet. Dropping off my suit.
I taste something cold and hard in my mouth and spit it into my hand. It looks like a broken, mangled piece of metal. Like it was too flimsy to stand against me.
Smart little bullet, I think.
And then I run.
The halls are still now. The footsteps, fewer.
I’ve already tossed two hundred soldiers into the ocean.
Knocked down about a hundred more.
I have no idea how many more soldiers Anderson has left guarding this ship. But I’m going to find out.
I’m breathing hard as I make my way through this maze. It’s a sad truth that while I’ve learned to fight and I’ve learned to project, I still have no idea how to run.
For someone with so much power, I’m terribly out of shape.
I kick down the first door I see.
I’m going to rip apart every inch of this ship until I find Anderson. I will tear it down with my own two hands if I need to. Because he has Sonya and Sara. And he might have Kenji.
And first, I need to make them safe.
And second, I need him dead.
Another door splinters open.
I kick the next one down with my foot.
They’re all empty.
I see a set of swinging double doors at the end of the hall and I shove through them, hoping for something, anything, any sign of life.
It’s a kitchen.
Knives and stoves and food and tables. Rows and rows and rows of canned goods. I make a mental note to come back for this. It seems a shame to let all this food go to waste.
I bolt back out the doors.
And jump. Hard. Stomping through the deck and hoping there’s another floor to this ship.
I land badly on the toes of my feet, slightly off-balance and toppling backward. I catch myself just in time.
This, I think. This is right. This is totally different.
The halls are huge down here; windows to the outside cut into the walls. The floor is made of wood again, long, thin panels that are brightly glossed and polished. It looks nice down here. Fancy. Clean. The sirens feel muted on this level, like a distant threat that means little anymore, and I realize I must be close.
Footsteps, rushing toward me.
I spin around.
There’s a soldier charging in my direction, and this time, I don’t hide. I run toward him, tucking my head in as I do, and my right shoulder slams into his chest so hard he goes flying across the hall.
Someone tries to shoot me from behind.
I spin around and walk right up to him, swatting the bullets from my face like they might be flies. And then I grab his shoulders, pull him close, and knee him in the groin. He doubles over, gasping and groaning and curling into himself on the floor. I bend down, rip the gun out of his hand, and clutch a fistful of his shirt. Pick him up with one hand. Slam him into the wall. Press the gun to his forehead.
I’m tired of waiting.
“Where is he?” I demand.
He won’t answer me.
“Where?” I shout.
“I d-don’t know,” he finally says, his voice shaking, his body twitching, trembling in my grip.
And for some reason, I believe him. I try to read his eyes for something, and get nothing but terror. I drop him to the floor. Crush his gun in my hand. Toss it into his lap.
I kick open another door.
I’m getting so frustrated, so angry now, and so blindly terrified for Kenji’s well-being that I’m shaking with rage. I don’t even know who to look for first.
I stand in front of another door, defeated. The soldiers have stopped coming. The sirens are still blaring, but from a distance now. And suddenly I’m wondering if this was all just a waste of time. If maybe Anderson isn’t even on this ship. If maybe we’re not even on the right ship.
And for some reason, I don’t kick down the door this time.
For some reason, I decide to try the handle first.
There’s a huge bed in here with a large window and a beautiful view of the ocean. It’s lovely, actually, how wide and expansive everything is. Lovelier still are its occupants.
Sonya and Sara are staring at me.
They’re perfect. Alive.
Just as beautiful as they’ve ever been.
I rush over to them, so relieved I nearly burst into tears.
“Are you okay?” I ask, gasping, unable to control myself. “Are you all right?”
They throw themselves into my arms, looking like they’ve been through hell and back, tortured from the inside, and all I want to do is carry them out of this ship and take them home.
But as soon as the initial hyperventilations are out of the way, Sonya says something that stops my heart.
“Kenji was looking for you,” she says. “He was just here, not too long ago, and he asked us if we’d seen you—”
“He said you got split up,” Sara says.
“And that he didn’t know what happened to you,” Sonya says.
“We were so worried you were dead,” they say together.
“No,” I tell them, feeling crazy now. “No, no, I’m not dead. But I have to go. Stay here,” I’m saying to them. “Don’t move. Don’t go anywhere. I’ll be right back, I promise,” I say. “I just have to go find Kenji—I have to find Anderson—”
“He’s two doors over,” Sara says, eyes wide.
“The one all the way at the end of the hall,” Sonya says.
“It’s the one with the blue door,” they tell me.
“Wait!” Sonya stops me as I turn to go.
“Be careful,” Sara says. “We’ve heard some things—”
“About a weapon he’s brought with him,” Sonya says.
“What kind of weapon?” I ask, heart slowing.
“We don’t know,” they say together.
“But it made him very happy,” Sara whispers.