Binding Moonlight

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

Chapter 8 (v.1) - Chapter 8

Submitted: January 09, 2019

Reads: 15

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Submitted: January 09, 2019

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“All right, I guess we can get started with our first official meeting,” Nrekeeka said, leaning forward in her chair at the end of the table.

Tobi nodded, leaning back to put his feet up as Theo and Adonis quietly waited for her to continue.

“First of all, I want to thank you for helping me,” she told them with a smile. “But other than the incident with his employees at the bar, we haven't heard anything from Stamos in quite a while.”

“No news is good news though, right?” asked Theo, his brow creased with a frown.

Nrekeeka nodded. “We have no clue what he's planning to do with the cure, though. The longer we wait, the more Shelsea deteriorates. The doctors are doing everything they can to help, but they can only do so much,” she answered.

“And we don't know how to go about getting our hands on it,” added Tobi.

“I assume direct force is not an option?” The non-expression on Adonis' face was frightening.

“No. I would like to avoid putting lives in danger if possible,” replied Nrekeeka, propping her chin in her hand.

“Oh! I have an idea! Keep in mind though, I watch a lot of holotelevision, so this may be absolutely nuts when I say it out loud...” said Theo, making a face as he spoke.

Tobi took his feet off the table and sat forward. “Well, spit it out.”

“They work in a government building, right? They probably have cameras everywhere. Tobi could shoot them out from a distance with one of his rifles. Then Adonis could sneak inside and open the door to let us in. We find the computers, download what we need, steal samples or whatever, then wipe their hard drives. Or something along those lines...Having said it out loud, it does sound a little crazy.” Theo twisted his mouth to one side, grimacing.

The room was quiet as they took in Theo's suggestion. Tobi sat forward in his chair, pointing at Theo and waggling his finger.

“Y'know, it may just work,” he said.

“Really?” Theo's eyebrows shot upward.

A slow smile curled Nrekeeka's mouth. “Yeah, actually.”

“Really?” Theo repeated.

Nrekeeka nodded. “Definitely. How come we never thought of something so simple?”

“Uh...glad I could help?” Theo's eyes were wide.

Leaning over in her seat, Nrekeeka gave Theo a kiss on the cheek. Color flooded his face and somehow he missed the glare Tobi directed at him.

“There's actually a small issue with the idea if we want to avoid people getting hurt,” Tobi said, crossing his arms over his chest.

“What?” Nrekeeka asked.

“We have no clue where we'd be going once we got inside. We're gonna have to get our hands on blueprints or something,” he explained, a pang of guilt stabbing him when he saw Theo's shoulders fall.

“Yeah, I guess that is a problem.”

Adonis let out a sharp breath, leaning back in his chair. “I can get photos of the layout.”

“And how are you going to manage such a feat?” Tobi asked, scowling.

“I have plenty of experience with infiltration, and as you know I have the pyromorphic genetic mutation. It would be simple enough to enter the building and take the pictures myself,” Adonis explained, boredom dripping from his voice.

Nrekeeka's eyes grew wide. “Really? Are you sure it wouldn't be too dangerous? I hear they've been setting up new security both inside the building and out.”

“This is my job,” Adonis said. “I make a living doing this kind of thing.”

“It is what we hired him for, 'Keeka,” Tobi told her, shrugging.

Nrekeeka dipped her head in a slow, hesitant. “I suppose you're right. And the sooner we get these pictures the better.”

“I suggest after midnight tonight,” said Adonis.

Nrekeeka nodded again. “If you're willing...Theo, I want you to go with him. You don't have to go inside or anything. I just want you there in case something happens. You know how to drive?”

“Surprisingly, yes,” Theo answered.

A scowl contorted Adonis' features.

“I'll lend you a camera,” Tobi said, pushing himself to his feet. “Come on.”

Adonis silently rose to his feet, following Tobi out of the library.

“How are you settling in?” Nrekeeka asked Theo as the door closed behind the pair.

“Fine, thank you. Although Adonis makes me a little uneasy. Having a conversation with him is like trying to talk to a stray cat.” Theo pouted, resting his chin in his hand.

The statement startled a laugh out of Nrekeeka. “I can't say I've ever tried talking to stray cats,” she replied.

“Well, you talk to him and he gives you this blank stare like he's trying to decide if he should attack you or run away,” Theo clarified.

“I know I shouldn't say anything bad, but you're right. I feel absolutely horrible agreeing with you, but he does scare me a bit. But he's got experience, and he comes cheap,” Nrekeeka replied. She slouched low in her seat and blew her bangs out of her eyes.

“I'm sure he's nice enough, he just lacks people skills.” Shrugging, Theo made a face. “Oh well. I'll try my best to be nice to him. Who knows? Maybe we have a lot in common.”

“True enough. You really can't judge a book by its cover. Speaking of which, I haven't seen you even glance at my ears once. Everyone always does,” said Nrekeeka, raising her eyebrows at him.

Theo copied her expression. “Does it really surprise you so much? Like you said, you can't judge a book by its cover, right? I don't judge, or care, what a person looks like. I think you're pretty for sure, but believe me, the length of your ears doesn’t concern me. I never learned to discriminate.” He smiled at her shock. “I have a full-blooded Krossite on my staff as a bookkeeper,” he added.

“I am so used to people staring and asking questions because of the war. I don't know how to act in a situation like this.” Nrekeeka wrinkled up her nose, shaking her head.

Laughing, Theo brushed his hair away from his eyes. “Act like you don't care. Like I said, you're pretty, so you shouldn't worry about it.”

Nrekeeka's cheeks flushed.

Pushing himself to his feet, Theo put a hand on Nrekeeka's shoulder. Leaning over, he met her eyes and almost blinded her with his grin. “Either way, you don't need to worry about what I think. I am pretty much the last person you need to impress. I like it here, and I like the people, and you'll be hard pressed to get rid of me.” Squeezing her shoulder, he winked at her and strolled out of the library.

Exhaling a sharp breath through her nose, Nrekeeka leaned back in her chair. She let her head loll back and stared at the ceiling. A few minutes passed, and her calm silence was interrupted when Tobi came back into the room.

“I just passed Theo in the hall. He seemed cheerful. Told me he had a nice little chat with you,” he said.

“Yeah. He was just telling me how much he likes it here. And he told me I'm pretty,” she answered as she sat up.

“Oh really?” Crossing his arms, Tobi leaned his weight on one leg.

“Is that a problem?” she asked, frowning at him.

Tobi shook his head. “No. Why would it be a problem?”

She returned his innocent expression with a blank stare. “Tobi...”

“What?”

“You really think I don't know you well enough to know when something is upsetting you?”

“Nothing's wrong.”

“Tobi,” she warned.

Tobi's raised his eyebrows. “Seriously!”

Rolling her eyes, Nrekeeka got to her feet and stood toe-to-toe with Tobi. She tilted her head back to meet his eyes and put her hands on her hips. “Don't lie to me. I know how to get information out of you, you know.”

“May I ask how?” he asked, challenging her.

“I know how ticklish you are,” she replied, making a grab for his side. He let out a high-pitched squeak, bringing his hands up as he backed away from her. She kept grabbing at his sides and armpits, tickling him as he tried worming out of her reach.

“Cut it out!” he laughed.

“Tell me what's wrong.”

“Okay, okay! I'll tell you,” he panted, falling into a chair as she stepped back. The smile slipped from his face as he licked his lips, watching as she sat down as well. “I feel stupid about this.”

“Just tell me. I've been your best friend since I was twelve. We don't have secrets anymore.”

If only it were true. “I'm getting this vibe I'm not as important to you as I used to be,” he admitted, scowling at his lap.

“What? Why would you think that?” she questioned, eyes wide.

Tobi ran his hand through his hair. “Well, for starters, you felt the need to bring in outside help. I mean, I know I was reluctant, but since Theo arrived, it's kinda like you're devoting a lot of your attention to him. And now he's flirting with you? It's just...I guess I'm feeling protective and you...I mean, sure Theo's a nice guy and all, and Adonis probably is too somewhere really deep down, but you're putting a lot of faith in two virtual strangers,” he told her. “You've shot down all my ideas since we decided to do this, but the second they open their mouths, you're all over them.”

Nrekeeka blinked at Tobi, astonished. It took her a second to realize what was really bothering her friend. The faint color in his cheeks and his downcast eyes gave him away. “You're jealous, aren't you?”

“What? Why the hell would I be?” he demanded, his voice a little too high.

“Oh, Tobi. It's really cute and all, but there is no need. Until I get my sister back, you have my undivided attention,” she told him, patting his knee. “And just because someone compliments me, it doesn't mean they're flirting. I mean, you call me pretty all the time and you aren't flirting, right?”

Tobi twisted his mouth to the side. “I'm not jealous.”

“And I don't believe you.” Nrekeeka's haughty tone stuck with Tobi even after she disappeared from the room.

Tobi smacked his forehead against the table and let a low growl rumbled from his throat. This had not been his finest moment. He smacked his head again and just sat there until his back began to cramp.

 

***

 

Theo's watch read just past midnight by the time he and Adonis were ready to leave. They rented a car different than either of Tobi's vehicles, just in case. Theo started the blue and black car while Adonis checked the mini camera he was going to be using.

“You know what to do, yes?” Adonis asked him after they were in the air.

Theo nodded, keeping his eyes on the air lanes. “I think so.”

Adonis pursed his lips. “When we arrive, drop me off and wait up the street. If everything goes as planned, I will meet up with you. If not, I will try and contact you so you can pick me up quickly,” he repeated.

“What if I don't hear from you at all?” asked Theo.

“Contact Nrekeeka. She will give you instructions. Take a left here.” Adonis pointed at a street up ahead. He was quiet for a moment before his gaze slid toward Theo. “Why are you doing this?” he asked.

“Doing what?”

“This job. Why did you agree to work for them?”

Theo directed a sideways glance at Adonis. “Because I was a bored, spoiled, rich brat,” he answered with a flat tone which contradicted the smirk on his lips.

Adonis remained silent afterward, except to give the occasional direction. Even if he did want to carry on a conversation with the kid, he had no idea what to say. It would be better for him to stay quiet and focused.

Adonis was prepared when Theo dropped him off in front of a tall chain-link fence. He centered his energy so he could morph and pass through the fence. The trick would be to spread himself thin so no one noticed a giant ball of flame floating around outside.

Concentrating on his internal energy, he pictured himself transforming, blocking out the noise of the city. He began to change, the flames licking at his feet, engulfing them, twisting and changing him into wisps of fire.

As he changed, he kept his temperature low so he didn't set off any potential biosensors. When his physical body no longer existed, he slipped through the chain link fence and into the yard. Remaining in his flame state, he circled the perimeter of the building, checking for places he could enter. He found a thin crack in a door frame and took advantage of the flaw.

Morphing back on the move, Adonis stuck to the shadows as best he could. The hall was dim, but not pitch black. Removing the camera from his pocket, he started taking pictures. Each door he arrived at was locked with a keypad next to it. More than once he had to waste time changing back and forth so he could see what was inside. The entire wing was filled with dusty labs and unused computer equipment. Lines of consoles were covered in sheets and disconnected from the power grid.

Adonis kept to shadows as he investigated the first wing of the building, despite evidence indicating this area was no longer in use. The building seemed to be standard government construct. It was built for many more workers than those currently in residence here, however. The Parset Health and Welfare seal adorned some of the walls. The large central room where the wings connected looked like it could have been an employee break area or lounge at some point. Three wings branched off the central area, the PDHW seal inlaid in the white linoleum at the entrance to each hall. There were no signs labeling what each wing housed, so Adonis would need to investigate every room.

Moving to the next area, Adonis stopped at the first room he came to, which turned out to be a kitchen. A few doors were labeled with room numbers. This had to be the residential wing. He didn't want to risk entering the bedroom of one of the employees and chose to end his investigation of this area.

Turning back, he retraced his steps to the central area. Before he left this wing, he thought he heard a door open behind him and quickly hid in a deep shadow. He waited, holding his breath. No one appeared, and there were no more sounds from down the hall. He continued.

It didn't take much time for him to complete his snapshots of the third wing, which consisted mainly of offices and a reception area. Crossing back through the building, he headed for the door when he heard footsteps behind him. This time it wasn't just his imagination.

“Turn around slowly, hands in the air.”

Adonis slipped the camera into his pocket before doing as instructed. Two men stood before him, one with long green hair and glasses, the other was the scar covered brunet from the bar. The green haired man aimed a small plasma pistol at Adonis' chest.

“If you want to shoot me, make it quick,” said Adonis.

The man with the gun shrugged. “I haven't decided yet if I will or not. Maybe if you tell me what you're doing here, I'll let you live.”

Adonis stared at him, his face expressionless.

The man glanced at his friend and smirked. “Oh, and you should hand over your camera as well,” he said, taking a few steps forward.

“What camera?” replied Adonis.

Scowling, the man aimed the weapon to one side and pulled the trigger. “I'm not in the mood for games. Hand it over.”

Letting out a slow breath, Adonis lowered his hand and reached into his pocket. As he retrieved the camera, he tapped a button on his mobile. With slow, smooth movements, he removed the camera from his pocket, tossing it to the man with the scars. Not having the pictures would be an issue, but he could remember the layout if he concentrated.

“I am no further threat to you,” said Adonis, taking a step back.

“No further threat? What an entertaining notion.” The smirk returned to the man's lips as he adjusted his glasses. “No, I'm afraid the only way you will no longer be a threat is if I neutralize you. I just can't decide if I should shoot you outright, or let Ekie have some fun first.”

Adonis took another step back as the one called Ekie took a step toward him. His back hit the door. Beside him was the keypad, which he noticed was carelessly unlocked. Slapping the keypad, he lunged at the scarred man. Knocking the man back, he kneed him in the stomach before spinning around and bolting out the door. The two men followed, the brunet close on his heels despite the hit. He heard the whine of a plasma round and a grunt behind him before white-hot pain tore through his shoulder. But he kept moving, heading for the fence. As he ran, he morphed.

More plasma rounds followed, but they only ignited on the heat of his flame. He was virtually indestructible in this state, but the pain in his shoulder made it difficult to control himself. He was barely through the fence before changing back. Luckily, he didn't have much further to go before he caught up to Theo, who had the car ready as soon as he fell into the vehicle.

Adonis' chest heaved as he slid low in the seat, pressing his hand to his shoulder. Blood seeped between his fingers and soaked into his shirt. He grit his teeth, trying to slow his heartbeat and calm his breathing. Theo kept glancing over at him, brow knit with worry.

“Just keep driving,” growled Adonis.

“But—!” Theo tried to protest.

“I said keep driving!” exclaimed Adonis, forcing himself to sit up. His shirt pulled at the entrance wound on his back, partially embedded in the flesh. He swallowed hard, ignoring the pain as he tore the cloth away from the exit wound just below his collarbone, close to his shoulder. The plasma round had torn straight through the flesh and muscle, thankfully missing any bone. It hurt like a son of a bitch, but he'd live.

“You'd better not pass out on me,” said Theo. “That's a lot of blood.”

“I have yet to pass out from a gunshot wound,” replied Adonis. “I need to remember the floor plan. The camera was taken.”

“Tell me about the place. Keep talking,” instructed Theo, alternating his gaze between the road and Adonis.

“One floor, two entrances, three wings...” Adonis began, his voice trailing off.

Theo reached over and shook Adonis' knee, attempting to keep him awake.

“Do not touch me,” snarled Adonis, swatting Theo's hand away.

“Sorry! I thought you passed out.”

“I do not pass out,” he answered even though his eyelids were drooping.

“If you say so, Mr. Tough Guy. Just, y'know, keep talking or something anyway,” Theo said, letting out a shaky breath. Adonis glared at him. “Humor me, okay? You've lost a lot of blood. I don't want to get yelled at for not doing my job.”

“You are a cook, not a doctor.”

“I'm also a medic. Not formally trained or anything, since I'm not even sixteen yet, but believe it or not, I do know what I'm doing. I had lots of free time in which to study,” grumbled Theo. He shook his head before looking over at the man again. Adonis' eyes were closed. “Wake up, dammit! I'm attempting to not crash this car and keep you assertive at the same time. You could be a little more helpful, you know.”

“I've kept myself alive my entire life without your help. I am entirely certain I can manage a bit longer.” Adonis' tone was oddly devoid of contempt but held an edge of sadness.

“You know, I'm not entirely sure if you're talking to me because I asked you too, or if you're blood loss has made you loopy,” replied Theo, smirking at the silver-eyed man. When they stopped at a traffic light, he leaned over to check the hole in Adonis' back. It was still bleeding, but the flow had slowed considerably. The man's shirt was soaked with blood, as was the car seat.

“You make it sound as though I never speak to you at all,” mumbled Adonis, a few words slurred as he leaned his head back against the headrest. His eyelids fluttered.

“Only if you have to. Even then, you either insult me or belittle me. I'm pretty sure you made the choice to dislike me before you even met me.”

Turning his head, Adonis frowned at Theo. “That is not true.”

Theo raised his eyebrows. “Oh? We've known one another for a week now, and in this space of time, we've barely had two conversations. When you had known me for all of an hour, you called me a spoiled rich brat. Just yesterday you called me childish. I've tried being nice, but you make it very hard.”

“I will not apologize.”

“I don't expect you to. We're almost home, so just try and stay conscious a bit longer, okay?” Theo grumbled low in his throat and turned onto a side street. The building was only two or three minutes away.

When they arrived, Theo parked the rental car on the concrete pad in front of the building. Adonis grunted at the bumpy landing and Theo apologized as he got out. He ran around to the passenger side, stooping over to hook Adonis' good arm around his shoulders. He was surprised the man didn't complain. Half-stumbling, they made it inside and down the hall to the little medical room. Adonis accepted Theo's help getting up on the narrow exam bed. Once the man was seated, Theo peeled the cloth of his shirt from the wound and removed the garment.

“Okay, I'm gonna heal it now. But just so you know, it feels really weird,” Theo informed Adonis, pressing his hand against the exit wound. Closing his eyes, he concentrated as the blue light spread across Adonis' skin.

“It's cold!” he exclaimed, trying to pull away from Theo.

“I know, now stay still.” Theo held Adonis in place with his other hand while he worked. Keeping his eyes closed, he focused on the injury. This was the most severe wound he ever treated, and it was taking its toll. The skin was coming together slower than he had expected, but the wound eventually closed.

Taking his hand away, Theo let out a steadying breath. He was feeling so drained, he almost tripped over his own feet as he went to wash his hands.

While he was at the counter, he grabbed a towel and ran it under the hot water. When he turned back to Adonis, the man looked droopy, so he went ahead and started cleaning the blood from his arm and chest.

“How are you doing?” Theo asked, dabbing at the drying blood.

“Still hurts,” Adonis grumbled, watching Theo's movements with sleepy eyes.

“It will for a while, I'm afraid. I can't do anything about it, so just take some painkillers.”

Adonis nodded. He was struggling to stay awake, head dipping, eyelids heavy. Suddenly, he sat up straight and looked at Theo. “Do you have an ENP?”

“Uh, I think there's one in here somewhere,” replied Theo, setting down the blood-stained towel to search the drawers. He rifled through the contents and pulled out an electronic notepad, handing it over to Adonis. The man snatched the device out of Theo's hands and started drawing on it with a stylus. His hand moved quickly, making expert strokes, drawing the floor plan of the PDHW facility.

“Give this to Nrekeeka,” he said once he finished the drawing, and handed the ENP back to Theo.

“I will when I finish cleaning the blood off of you,” replied Theo, rinsing out the towel. He brought it back over to Adonis and continued to wipe away the blood, ignoring the man's scowl. It didn't take long, but when he was done Adonis was fast asleep.

Shaking his head, Theo couldn't help the smile that curled his lips as he helped Adonis lie down on the padded exam bed. Pulling one of the emergency blankets from the cupboard, he draped it over the man and sat down in the chair on the other side of the room. He closed his eyes. It had been a long day, and Theo was exhausted. Falling asleep in a chair would not be difficult for him tonight. The floor plan could wait until morning.


© Copyright 2019 Kristin Kuffner. All rights reserved.

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