Binding Moonlight

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

Chapter 21 (v.1) - Chapter 21

Submitted: January 19, 2019

Reads: 9

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Submitted: January 19, 2019

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Max sat across from Nrekeeka in the common room, drumming her fingers on the arm of the chair. She swallowed, trying to get her dry throat to cooperate. She knew what she wanted to say to the other woman, but she couldn't get her mouth or voice to form the words.

Nrekeeka sat back in her chair, keeping her fluorescent eyes on Max. “You look like you're about to cry.”

“I'm sorry!” she squeaked, clutching the arms of the chair. “I should have told you this days ago, but I didn't know how.”

“Well, you're telling me now.”

Max nodded. She took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “When Robyn hired us, he made us sign forms saying we couldn't discuss what was going on, but I don't think it matters anymore. It's no secret Robyn hates Deldinites. More than anyone I've ever met, in fact. His dad died in the war and he blames the entire race. It became an obsession. It was the entire reason he took over the PDHW facility. He used the labs to create the cure only so he could...reverse engineer it, I guess? None of it made much sense to me, but he told me he was making a new strain of Amaran. He wanted a version which would work quickly and effectively. He told me Deldinites are already more susceptible to the virus, but their deaths were too messy. He wanted to change this. I suppose most of this information is kind of useless. Basically what I'm trying to say is Robyn is planning to kill off the entire population of Deldin with his mutated virus. I don't know how, or when, but...” Max trailed off with a twitch of her shoulders, sitting up straight to look Nrekeeka in the eye.

Nrekeeka's face drained of color as she sat silently for a moment. “But...Adonis wiped the database.”

“Robyn backed things up in triplicate. And a lot of it was physical lab work with cultures and stuff.”

Blinking a few times, Nrekeeka eyes glazed over as she stared at her hands.

“I'm really sorry I didn't say anything before now. I don't know how much he's done because I never actually saw him working on anything. There was no evidence, but he was definitely doing something,” Max continued, “I'm really, really sorry.

“No, I'm glad you told me. It's not too late yet,” replied Nrekeeka. “We can still stop him somehow. I mean, he's only one man.”

“One absurdly intelligent man. Should we talk to the police?” Max asked, picking at a loose thread sticking out of the chair.

Huffing a breath through her nose, Nrekeeka thought for a moment. “No. The police will just think we're more protesters. They won't listen to anyone regarding Robyn or the PDHW. We're going to have to fix this ourselves.” Reaching up with one hand, Nrekeeka started to spin the hoops in her ear as she rose to her feet.

“I can't speak for Gabe or Ekie, but I swear I'll do whatever I can to help. Part of this is my fault and I want to put things right.”

Nrekeeka gave her a shallow nod. “I need to think about this for a while. Excuse me.” Without looking back, she left the room and allowed her feet to carry her downstairs.

This was too much. While she was glad Max said something, she had no idea how to process the new information. This was so far over her head, but if they didn't do something about it, no one else would.

She needed to find somewhere quiet to think. Most rooms in the building wouldn't be empty for more than twenty minutes at a time, and Shelsea was napping in her room. The only exception was the medibay, which made her uncomfortable.

Taking a few deep breaths to calm herself, Nrekeeka's eyes focused again and she realized she was standing in front of Tobi's gun cabinet. Without thinking, she reached up to enter her code. The cabinet beeped, and she turned the lever, opening the door. Pulling out one of the smaller handguns, she loaded it the way Tobi had shown her, testing its weight in her hands.

“What do you plan to do with this?” she muttered, running her fingertips over the smooth, black metal. Even her low tone echoed in the sub-basement. Letting out a long-suffering sigh, she dropped her hands to her sides, the gun hanging heavily in her grasp. There was no way she could just walk up to him and kill him. As much as she wanted to, she knew she didn't have it in her.

Nrekeeka sank to the cold concrete floor, crossing her legs and holding the gun in her lap. Even if she could get close enough to Robyn to do something, she didn't know what would happen. Thinking about it now, she didn't even know if she could trust what Max said. She didn't know the girl well enough to tell if she was lying. But still...she trusted the girl far more than she did Robyn.

“What do I do?” Nrekeeka sat in the quiet room, listening to the thump of her heart in her ears. Her head spun, fear squeezed her lungs, and she was trying so hard to stay calm. She was supposed to be their leader. She was supposed to know exactly what needed to be done. She didn't have the answers. There was no way for her to know when, where, or how Robyn was going to do what Max claimed he was planning.

Nrekeeka closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind. The first thing they needed to do was investigate. They needed to get some proper, reliable, information. She could try getting one of Robyn's former employees to go back, play innocent, and spy on him. Or she could ask Theo's cat, the animorph, to do it for her. Gabe might be willing to do some recon for them since he was a teleporter. She did have some options, which was a start.

Licking her lips, Nrekeeka stared absently at the gun still resting in her hands. The metal had warmed, and it no longer weighed as heavily in her hands. She shook her head and frowned. She remained this way for a few minutes, glancing over her shoulder only when the door hissed open.

“What the hell are you doing down here? And why the hell is the gun case open?” Tobi demanded, panic constricting his voice. He was beside Nrekeeka in a few strides, crouching next to her and taking the weapon from her hands. He expertly removed the cartridge and slipped it into his pocket.

Nrekeeka blinked at him. “I wasn't going to use it on myself if that's what you were thinking,” she informed him, searching his golden eyes.

Tobi fell back onto his butt to sit next to Nrekeeka. A relieved breath rushed from his lips. “Could have fooled me. What are you doing sitting on the floor with a loaded gun, anyway?”

Biting her lip, Nrekeeka flicked Tobi a sideways glance. “Max gave me some troubling news earlier.”

“Oh?” His voice hitched on the single syllable.

Nrekeeka relayed the information. “I don't know what to do,” she told him when she finished.

“Huh. I... I don't know. I suppose we'll have to find out if it's reliable, first off.”

“I thought so as well. After I calmed down, anyway. I'm scared Tobi.”

“What for?” Tobi's brow twitched.

“Tobi, he wants to get rid of every Deldin, including me and Shelsea. I'm in over my head, and I'm starting to panic. I don't have the skills to lead these people. I just...I don't...” Nrekeeka's voice caught in her throat and she put her face in her hands.

Leaning close, Tobi put his hand on her back. “You don't have to deal with this. You've done your job. Let the cops handle it from here,” he told her, voice soft and low.

“You don't understand. We have to deal with him. Like I told Max, the police won't have anything to do with him. They wouldn't help before, and they won't help now. They can't do anything because they need warrants and evidence. By the time they get those, it'll be too late,” Nrekeeka explained, words muffled by her hands.

Tobi made a little noise in his throat and ran his fingers through his long, plum colored hair. “Do me a favor, Sweetheart?”

“What?”

“Stop thinking about Robyn and focus on your family. I'll deal with finding out what we need to know, all right?”

“But—?”

“All right?”

The pair stared at one another, waiting to see who would be the first to give.

“The stare only works on Shelsea.”

Tobi arched a brow.

Nrekeeka scowled at him. “You had better update me every step of the way.”

“Yes ma'am,” Tobi answered with a grin and mock salute.

A twitch of a smile briefly curved her lips. Exhaling a steadying breath, she sucked her bottom lip between her teeth. Her eyes darted toward Tobi.

“What's wrong?” he asked, tipping his head as he met her gaze.

Nrekeeka fidgeted for a moment, playing with the hem of her shirt. She took a few deep breaths before twisting to face Tobi. Leaning forward, she closed her eyes and pressed her lips against his.

Tobi's mind went blank and his heart raced in his chest. Lifting one hand, he slid it around to cradle the back of Nrekeeka's head as he responded. Gently, so he wouldn't scare her, he put a little pressure into the kiss. He parted his lips, ghosting the tip of his tongue across hers, seeing if he could take this just a bit further. A tiny gasp escaped Nrekeeka's throat, giving Tobi the opportunity he needed to deepen the kiss. She grasped the front of his shirt, and Tobi thought things were going well until he tasted the tears sliding down her cheeks. Reluctantly, he pulled away but continued to cradle her head in his hands.

“What's wrong? Did I go too far?” he asked, swiping his thumb across her cheek.

Nrekeeka gave an emphatic shake of her head. “I'm sorry Tobi,” she hiccupped.

“No. No don't be sorry Sweetheart,” he whispered, pulling her against his chest. “You've done nothing to apologize for.”

“I shouldn't have. It wasn't right.” Nrekeeka shook her head again, trying to turn away from him.

Tobi grabbed her jaw, forcing her to look at him. “Listen to me, 'Keeka. You obviously don't believe that, or you wouldn't have done it. I think you already know how I feel, which I honestly thought would freak me out a lot more. I don't know what you think about me, but I'm guessing it's not all bad. However you decide to do things is fine by me, but I don't want you to panic about it, okay? You've got enough on your plate right now and I don't want you making yourself sick. Why don't you go spend some time with your sister and relax, okay?”

Nrekeeka rubbed her hands over her eyes, turning away from Tobi and getting to her feet. She didn't say another word as she hurried from the room.

Groaning loudly, Tobi covered his face with his hands. “Why me?” He fell backward, narrowly avoiding hitting his head on the floor. “Some days I really hate my life.” He was still for some time, just staring blankly at the ceiling. After a few minutes, as much as he tried to suppress it, a smile appeared on his face. He could taste her lip balm when he licked his lips. It wasn't some stereotypical flavor like cherry or strawberry, it was plain beeswax. But it was so like Nrekeeka.

“Okay you moron, time to go back to work.” Shaking his head, Tobi climbed to his feet and tucked everything back into the gun cabinet. Shoving his hands into his pockets, he closed his eyes. He could feel a headache coming on, habitually pinching the bridge of his nose in hopes it would help stave it off. He had too much to do right now, but he knew that was the reason for the headache in the first place. Better just ignore it and start getting things done, and the first thing on the list was Robyn. Three choices came to mind for who he could send to check on him.

Ninaria. She could easily trail the man while staying out of sight in her animal form. And she could defend herself if she got in trouble. But Tobi didn't trust her.

Gabe. The man had his teleportation ability, which was a great advantage. Tobi didn't know how well the man could fight, though. And he didn't know him on a personal level.

That left Adonis. There really was no contest in Tobi's mind because he trusted the man, knew he could defend himself, and had both pyro gene mutations. But his skills, while powerful, weren't exactly subtle.

Then again, he could always go a more traditional route. Nrekeeka might not like it, but he could do the job himself. Squatting in front of the locker on the floor, Tobi keyed in the code only he knew. He kept his rifles inside this locker, and he wasn't about to let anyone else get their hands on them.

Lifting out the case on top, he let the locker slam shut as he set it on the concrete floor. He popped the latches on the case and stared down at the weapon inside. Tobi's eyes roamed over the sections of sleek black steel and rubber. Each screw reflected the harsh lighting of the sub-basement. The ends of the high-powered scope reflected a distorted image of his face, and he was surprised to see how deeply he was frowning. He wasn't fond of the image.

Snapping the lid shut, Tobi got to his feet. Inhaling deeply, he let the breath out in a sigh. He scowled at the rifle case. In one smooth motion, he stooped over, grabbed the handle of the case and headed for the door.

Tobi was happy he didn't run into any of the others on the way out. He didn't want to stop and explain he was going out to do something potentially dangerous on his own. And he didn't want to admit he didn't have a plan. All he had to go on was the PDHW building, and he didn't even know if Stamos would be home.

Gently setting the rifle case on the floor of the back seat, Tobi hopped over the driver's side door and flopped into his seat. He slid the starter card into the slot and barely waited long enough for the lifts to kick in before pulling up and out of the lot.

Taking his vehicle higher than was technically legal, Tobi put his foot down hard on the accelerator. He wasn't exactly in a hurry, but he needed to feel the wind on his face and the adrenaline of the speed. Unfortunately, it didn't last long enough. As he got further into the city, he had to descend into legal traffic lanes mainly to avoid being arrested, but also to avoid accidents from erratic drivers.

It was always slow moving through downtown. To pass time, Tobi had his stereo blaring, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. He was so into his music, he almost missed the horrible yellow car one lane below and to the left of him. The vehicle blended in well and would probably go unnoticed by most others, but the glass top and atrocious color were such an affront to Tobi's love of sleek, modern cars, he couldn't help but notice.

The man with the ridiculous long, green hair sitting in the passenger seat wasn't very subtle, either.

“Oh, shit.” Tobi slapped the console, killing the tunes so he could concentrate. His gaze flicked from the man he was almost positive was Robyn Stamos, to the traffic stretched out before him. He needed to trail the man, which shouldn't be too difficult as long as Robyn didn't look up. This was the only time he wished he had a less flashy car. If he could fall back a bit, it would be easier to stay out of sight.

The traffic started moving again. Tobi kept one eye on Robyn's vehicle and one on the road. For almost an hour they continued to creep block by block through the hectic city center. Office buildings and over-hyped restaurants lined the street, people flooding the sidewalks. Day lamps began to dim, but the businesses lit up the blocks like Christmas trees. It had a certain appeal, but Tobi couldn't care less right now, his attention focused on trailing the ugly yellow car.

He started to get a little paranoid, thinking they may have realized they were being followed because they continued through the busiest sector of the city. An hour and a half of atrocious, mind-numbing traffic wreaked havoc on Tobi's concentration. Finally, they pulled off onto another street, heading north. Tobi couldn't think of anything out this way except for warehouses and factories.

The further they got from the city center, the lighter the traffic became. It took some creative driving on Tobi's part to keep from being spotted. The buildings thinned out, business and storage facilities requiring more square footage and yard space. More than once, Tobi had to turn off onto side roads or pull in behind buildings to stay hidden. Once or twice he lost the other car but quickly picked them up again on the next block.

Hide and seek lasted a good hour before the buildings were spaced so far apart, Tobi was left almost completely exposed. The other car pulled off the main road, slowing and decreasing their altitude in preparation for parking. Glancing away briefly, Tobi spotted the facility they were heading to and clenched his teeth to stop himself from swearing.

About two miles off the main road sat a former Parset Armed Forces compound. The PAF grounds had been abandoned years ago after an accident with chemical weapons left the buildings uninhabitable. The grounds were open, spacious, and no longer monitored. If what Max said was true, this would be the perfect place for Robyn to do whatever sinister thing he had in mind.

Tobi turned his car away from the facility before the other landed. The rest of this reconnaissance would have to be done on foot.

Parking behind a crumbling watchtower, Tobi climbed out of his car and pulled out the rifle case. Popping it open, he quickly assembled the weapon and headed back to the facility.

Tobi couldn't hear or see the ugly yellow car anymore, and chances were good they had parked somewhere inside the walled, gated compound. He ducked under the rusted boom barrier blocking the road and the hair on his arms stood on end. Somewhere on the grounds, most likely near the gate, some kind of electro-field still functioned. It was likely a dampening field used to repress genetic mutations. The military wasn't fond of anyone with those kinds of abilities.

Ignoring the odd tingling on his skin, Tobi moved further into the facility grounds. Clutching his rifle close to his chest, he ran from one building to another in a crouch. He really had no clue where he was going, so he moved toward what he hoped was the center of the compound.

Around the corner of one concrete box of a building, Tobi spotted the car. Voices traveled on the light breeze in his direction. It was almost silent out here, so he didn't need to get too close to hear them, and he could see them through his scope. Flattening out on the ground in the shadow of the contaminated buildings, Tobi aimed his rifle and watched through the scope.

In the circles of light created by the headlights of the car stood two men. One was unmistakably Robyn Stamos. He wore his hair tied out of the way in a rope-like braid, and his glasses were perched on top of his head as he pinched the bridge of his nose. Annoyance pinched his features as he spoke to the man standing across from him. This man held himself like a military officer. He looked middle-aged, with dark hair, and stubble on his jawline. There were creases around his eyes and mouth, but they were soft, more like laugh lines than wrinkles caused by scowling. He was tall, standing at least three inches taller than Robyn. Crossing his well-toned arms, he listened patiently as Robyn spoke. They were comfortable with one another, and the older man was tolerant of Robyn's overly serious nature.

“You sure about this, son?” the man opposite Robyn asked, giving the younger man a sympathetic glance.

Robyn nodded. “Yes. I know what I'm doing, Colonel. And please stop calling me son.”

The colonel let his chin drop to his chest as his shoulders rose and fell with a deep breath. “Robyn...it's like you don't understand what's going to happen to you in all of this. Best case scenario, you go to prison for life.”

The younger man gave a sharp shake of his head, his braid swinging. “Hardly. No one will be able to trace this back to me. The explosives in the rockets will vaporize the shells after the canisters are released. The virus is airborne, so there will be no physical evidence remaining.”

“What about your former employees? Or those people you told me about who broke into your building? Do you think they'll just sit idly by?” The man blinked down at Robyn.

He scoffed. “The one was half-Deldin, so she'll be put down anyway. And I'm sure I can find a way to dispose of the others somehow.”

“You're just as stubborn as your father. I'm not going to argue with you anymore. Do you think this location will work?” The colonel shook his head and let out a breath.

“It's perfect. Just think, forty-eight hours from now, you and I will be changing the world.” Robyn grinned.

“Things would have been so much easier during the war with you around.” The colonel smacked Robyn's shoulder and almost knocked him on his ass.

Regaining his balance, Robyn glowered at the man. “I really wish you would stop treating me like a child.”

The colonel shrugged, a smug smirk on his lips. “But you are a child.”

From there, the conversation deteriorated into mindless chatter. Tobi listened for a few more minutes, but it was clear he wasn't going to learn anything else. Getting to his feet, he made his way back to his car.

Calmly disassembling his rifle, he put it back in the case and set it on the floor of the back seat. He climbed into the car and put his hands on the steering wheel. Exhaling slowly, he put his head against the wheel and took a few more deep breaths. His entire body quaked, and his knuckles were white. He expected the conversation, but it still floored him. It would be hard telling Nrekeeka, but he didn't have a choice.

Tobi inhaled deeply. “Shit.”


© Copyright 2019 Kristin Kuffner. All rights reserved.

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