Binding Moonlight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 2 (v.1) - Chapter 2

Submitted: January 08, 2019

Reads: 18

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Submitted: January 08, 2019

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Max glanced out the window of Robyn’s office again. “I swear that car has been sitting there all day,” she said, fiddling with one of her absurdly long, rope-like braids.

“You’re being paranoid, Max. There are shops all around here, so I doubt it’s anything suspicious,” Robyn told her. He propped his feet on the corner of his desk, folding his hands in his lap as he watched her.

“It doesn’t hurt to be careful since people already know you have the cure. We’ve had some issues with protesters lately, right Ekie?”

Ekie dipped his head in a minute nod. The teen rarely spoke, and he was particularly silent when Max talked to him. Robyn hadn’t decided yet if his head of security was shy, or just strange. The only thing he really knew about him, besides his ability to handle himself in a fight, was his sensitivity toward the scars covering him from head to toe. It was so bad he wore gloves, long sleeve shirts with high collars, and baggy pants at all times. He kept his hair shoulder length and shaggy to hide any scars on the back of his neck and ears.

“I wouldn’t worry. If it’s anything at all, it is probably just be another obnoxious protester or media person. Ekie will take care of it should it become a problem.” Robyn gave Max a reassuring smile which doubled as subtle flirtation. “Now please, sit down.”

Nodding sheepishly, the girl took a seat beside Ekie and crossed her arms. Robyn had to force himself not to stare at her chest when he spoke to her at the best of times, and this was just trying his patience. For only fifteen, Max was stunning. While she was a little on the short side, barely scraping five feet, she was thin and her bosom was enormous. If he had a hard time working with her, as little as he did, he had no idea how Ekie managed.

Mentally smacking himself, Robyn got his thoughts back on track. “You're probably wondering why I asked you to my office today,” he said, taking his feet off the desk and leaning forward. “I have decided we’ve been working together long enough now I can trust you and share my plans with you. As you are probably well aware, the war with the Deldinites has been over for the better part of two years. However, this does not make them any less of a threat to the human race. Or any less vile. I am part of the population who believes they need to be exterminated.”

Max nodded her agreement. Like Robyn, the Human-Deldin war had orphaned her at a young age.

“I devised a way to make this a reality,” Robyn continued, admiring the surprise in Max’s blue eyes.

“Does it involve the cure? Is that why you’ve been withholding it?” Max asked.

“Only at first, but it is important the cure does not make it into the hands of the public until well after I’ve executed my plan.”

Max kept her gaze locked on him, both intrigued and confused.

Robyn reclined in his chair, propping his elbows on the arms and tenting his fingers. “Did you know the Deldinite immune system is much weaker than ours?” he asked them, though he did not expect an answer. “I’ve seen first-hand how one of the full-blooded aliens reacts to the current strain of the virus. It isn’t pretty. They react quickly and violently, with convulsions and liquefaction of organs. Very messy.

“I am working on a new strain designed to lessen the mess, but it still just as effective. The organs will shut down but remain intact as the muscles experience accelerated atrophy, so it will be quite painful. They will die just like the millions of human beings they slaughtered.” Robyn’s voice was calm as he spoke, but rage darkened his eyes.

“But what does this have to do with the cure? If you're creating a new strain, won't the cure you have now stop working?” Max asked.

Robyn was impressed with Max's question. He had not been expecting any intelligent inquiries. “Yes and no,” Robyn answered, licking his lips. “The cure I devised is composed of biomechanical organisms programmed to fight the virus. With the proper know-how, these organisms can easily be reprogrammed, which is why I don't want it going public quite yet. I would like to tweak it a little more so I can pick and choose which DNA and RNA it recognizes and repairs.”

“This is why we signed the non-disclosure agreements when you hired us, right?” Max asked. “Believe me, there’s no way I’ll let this out. I want them dead as much as you do.”

He smiled at Max before glancing over at Ekie. “What about you?”

Ekie glared at Robyn from under his eyebrows, eventually replying with a barely perceptible nod.

“Excellent. With that said, I’m going to need both of you at your best. Max, next to no one can beat your knowledge of computers. I need you to build an impenetrable firewall for our system. And Ekie, I need you to take a look at the internal and external security and fortify any weaknesses you may find. For obvious reasons, security is our main priority.” Robyn got to his feet and glanced out the window. The car Max was so worried about hadn’t budged. Turning away, he noticed the two teens were still sitting in his office. “What are you doing? Get to work.”

Max got to her feet as if she was spring-loaded while Ekie’s movements were much more fluid. Robyn ushered them from his office, locking the door behind them.

Puffing a breath through her nose at the sound of the lock falling into place, Max glanced over at Ekie as they walked down the hall. He returned her gaze, one brow raised.

“I don’t understand you,” she told him. “As far as I know, you don’t have a reason to stay. I mean, me and Robyn have a reason to want this, but do you?” she asked him, stopping to peer up into his eyes.

Ekie shook his head.

“Then why are you going to help?”

Sliding his hands into his pockets, he shrugged. He had to turn his eyes from her while they stood there. He had never been comfortable with people watching him. They stared at his scars, hating him for stupid, superficial reasons. It pissed him off.

Max pouted. “Well, even if you don’t care, I do,” she said as one of the overhead lights flickered. She would have to change the cartridge tomorrow.

Scowling, Ekie's eyes fell on Max again. She was frowning, and he felt stupid for feeling bad even though he hadn't done anything. Though when their eyes met, she smiled brightly, and his feeling of stupidity morphed into confusion.

Max bit back a laugh as she saw the twitch of his brow. No matter how severe the scowl on his face, she could usually tell how he really felt just by his eyes. “Y’know, I really wish you would talk to me, Ekie,” she told him as they headed into the only remaining computer lab with power. The majority of these rooms had been shut down to save money. Three people did not need an entire wing of computer rooms and labs.

Ekie remained silent as Max lowered herself into a chair.

“I mean, I understand why you don’t want to, but it makes me feel a little lonely,” she teased, watching him from under her eyelashes.

His frown deepened, but he took the seat next to Max. Crossing his arms over his chest, he refused to look in her direction, keeping his eyes on the wall-sized holographic computer monitor. He had no clue what he was seeing, but it was easier to understand than the girl sitting next to him. As she worked, she giggled to herself and Ekie finally glanced in her direction. Moments like this made him think his life on the street was easier. Sure, he had to fight for his food, but fighting was something he knew how to do.

“Aren’t you supposed to be fixing building security?” Max questioned him, interrupting his thoughts.

He nodded and got to his feet. Max watched him with her expressive eyes, making the hair on his arms stand on end. The feeling wasn’t entirely unpleasant, which somehow made Ekie more uncomfortable.

“See you later,” Max called to him as he left without as much as a glance back at her. She smiled as the door closed and turned back to her computer. As she worked, her mind kept wandering. She couldn’t seem to focus on her task, and more than once she had to fix errors in her programming.

Ever since she had been introduced to Ekie, she thought he was an intriguing person. He was shy in his own way, but his build belied a power she didn’t want to mess with. People were scared of him because of his scars, and his stern expression, but Max never knew why. Even though she hadn’t heard more than five words from the guy since they met, she had a feeling he was a nice person underneath it all. Max wished she could say the same for herself. She liked to pretend she was sweet and happy, but not too far beneath the surface, she was an angry, selfish child.

Feeling the sudden burn of tears in her eyes, Max sat back in her chair, letting her lids drift shut. Ten years ago her parents had been killed, but she still had a hard time dealing with their absence. Her brother Haruto was the only family she had left, but as hard as he tried he couldn’t take the place of her mom and dad. She loved Haru to pieces, so she tried not to show him her true feelings, but she doubted he believed her platitudes. She spent a lot of time trying not to scream at the top of her lungs, to vent just a little bit of the anger bubbling inside of her. She was angry at her parents for getting themselves killed, she was angry at the monsters who were responsible, she was angry at her brother for leaving her at the orphanage while he started his own life and she was angry at herself for feeling this way. None of it helped, but it didn’t change the way she felt. At least she could get some sort of justice now, working for Robyn.

“Is everything all right here, Max?”

Startled by the voice, Max sat up straight in her chair and tried to appear busy. “Uh, yeah, I’m fine!”

Robyn leaned against a bulkhead, sliding one hand into his pocket and pushing his glasses up with the other. Brushing his long, green hair from his face, he licked his lips. “Max, why are you lying to me?” he asked, his voice flat.

“What? I’m not lying. I’m perfectly fine Robyn,” she answered with a shaky smile.

“I’d be more inclined to believe you if you didn’t have tears running down your face.” He raised his eyebrows and smirked at her as she hastily wiped her face with the sleeve of her white blouse.

“Sorry,” she muttered, trying not to smudge her makeup as she dried her eyes. “I don’t usually let my mind wander so badly.”

Robyn shook his head. “Don’t worry. I’m sure talking about the war stirred up some unpleasant memories for you. My father’s death is the entire reason behind this endeavor, the reason I added xenobiology to my repertoire. I studied them so I could learn the fastest way to kill them,” he told her, trying to appeal to her with his sympathetic gaze. He didn’t mind playing dirty.

“I never knew much about your father other than his face. I saw his picture on the news once,” replied Max, staring at the wet spots on her sleeves. “He was very handsome.”

Robyn’s expression softened. “I’m sure he would have been flattered you thought so, Max.” Standing up straight, he walked over to Max and squatted in front of her. He took her hands in his, trying out his most genuine-looking, charming smile on her. “If you ever feel the need to talk, don’t hesitate to find me,” he said to her.

“Th-thank you, sir.”

“What have I said about you calling me sir?”

“Sorry.”

Chuckling, Robyn got back to his feet and patted Max on the shoulder before turning his attention to the screen. “How’s it going?”

“I’ve got it started, but to make it as secure as you need, it’ll take me a while to get it up and running,” she replied, glad to have the conversation turn to something less personal.

“Not a problem. Don’t rush it, but don’t take forever, either.”

“Of course.”

Nodding, Robyn flicked his gaze in her direction before leaving her alone in the lab once again.

The girl dropped her head into her hands. “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” she scolded. Crying in front of your boss! Excellent work, Max! Grumbling, she sat up and got back to work. This firewall wasn’t going to program itself.

Out in the hall, Robyn wore a nasty smirk on his lips. She would be easy to keep on his side. Just a few small expressions plus the right words and she was putty in his hands. And if Max was going to stick around, he didn’t doubt Ekie would as well. As tough and formidable as Ekie believed he was, he followed Max around like a lost puppy.

Things were already going nicely for Robyn. If he kept up his pace, he could reach his goal by the end of this year.

Ekie watched as Robyn left the computer lab, far too pleased with himself. He had been studying the details of this wing of the building when their boss came out into the hall. The expression on the man’s face was not one Ekie liked, and he decided he needed to check in on Max before he continued his work. He took a few steps toward the lab before stopping himself and giving a sharp shake of his head. Max could take care of herself. Just because Ekie though Robyn was a pompous jackass, didn’t mean Max felt the same. She was probably fine.

Growling low in his throat, Ekie put the electronic notepad he was working on in his pocket and went back to the lab. Max glanced up when he entered and Ekie noticed her eyes were red and puffy. He frowned.

“Do I have something on my face?” she asked, lifting her hand to her cheek.

Ekie shook his head and took a seat at another computer. If she didn’t want to tell him what happened, it wasn’t his business.

Max stared at him for a moment before shrugging and returning to her work.

Scowling darkly at the computer screen, Ekie brought up a holographic model of the building. He sat back in his chair, staring vacantly at the holographic image. He didn't need to see this to do his job, but if he was going to waste time sitting here, he may as well pretend he was doing something productive.

“Hey, Ekie! You know what we should do tonight?” Max asked after almost an hour of silence.

Ekie swiveled in his chair to face the girl.

“You know the car that’s been sitting outside all day? We should follow it if it’s still there. Even if Robyn doesn’t think it’s a threat, I do. Security is our job, after all.”

Surprised by her suggestion, Ekie found himself nodding in agreement.

“Awesome. If they’re a threat, we should probably keep an eye on them, yes?”

Again, Ekie was nodding. Max was already out of her seat, tugging on Ekie’s sleeve. She was grinning at him, and yet again, he was being swept up in her enthusiasm. It didn’t show on his face, but sometimes she amused him. He sighed to himself and followed her from the lab.


© Copyright 2019 Kristin Kuffner. All rights reserved.

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