Shackled Ch. 06byStory_Spinner©
And there it was. The million dollar question. She was trying not to scarf down the sandwich as though she hadn't eaten in days, but she truly hadn't really eaten in days. Her stomach cramped painfully as she forced herself to go slow, swallowed and took a sip of his brew. She had never been much of a drinker and the beer was bitter on her tongue. Pulling a face, she set it aside, thinking that this had to be the best sandwich ever made in human history, when logically she knew it wasn't.
"I am a scientist or was..." She began and picked up her food, setting the plate aside and getting up. Walking to her shoes, she crouched down, making her to bend at the knees so she wasn't flashing him an eyeful of pale bottom anything else he might enjoy.
Carefully she dug the disk she'd set on the inside of her shoe while his back had been turned and returned. Feeling as though they were in it together now, she tossed it to him, watching the shiny piece of technology plop down in front of him as she took another bite and sighed happily. Her cheeks bulged slightly as she chewed and swallowed, climbing onto the bed to face him.
He looked so casual and so good, his lean body relaxed as if he hadn't a care in the world. She was slowly warming up and fatigue was taking its toll, but she knew she owed him some information. At the very least! Drawing in a breath and started. "Ten years ago I was hired on as a scientist for THE most powerful pharmaceutical companies. I was only 24, eager, naive and had grand ideas of saving the world with affordable drugs for all. The perks weren't bad either. I got a warm place to live in, food, a little money in my pocket and a little extra to send home. So I couldn't complain."
Pressing the bottle to her lips, she took another sip of the bitter brew. "I don't want to brag, but, I soon climbed up to one of the lead scientists in one particular venture. Needless to say, I was very excited. This was exactly what I had envisioned it to be. I could taste the success. Can you imagine it? Affordable drugs for everyone? Enough to go around when someone is sick? It would mean healthier children, seniors, hell -- adults!"
His eyes studied her intently and she felt a little self conscious as she said to hell with it and scarfed the rest of her food down with a long draw of beer at the end and moaned. "God, that was good. Thanks." Tucking his oversized shirt over her knees, she tugged it lower her legs as she drew her knees up, leaving her small bare feet sticking out the bottom. Her eyes turned darker as she remembered finding out the real truth behind the project. "We were almost there...on the verge of a breakthrough. I came in one day a little early, eager to get back at it. Only, I ended up walking into a lot more than I bargained for. Someone had leaked some information out...probably a tech who didn't know any better. At first I thought it was bullshit. But as I did some digging, I found it to be all true. The corporation is going to use the information that I copied on that disk there to start and endemic and it won't be pretty. If you think things are bad now, they will be a hundred times worse. They will find the fight for complete control."
Her voice broke off as she drew in a breath, clearing her throat. No tears, she'd promised, no crying. "It's my fault. I should have realized, I should have known! When I learned the truth, I panicked and copied all my data. I only told one person whom I trust implicitly. I knew they were onto me. You can't just copy shit off the system and get away with it. But he managed to get me out before someone caught me. That was three days ago and I've been running since. I can finish the project we started, the cure to this disease that they will spread. If I don't though, all hell will break loose and people will start dropping like flies. I don't know how we'll get this out and who to trust, but we...I...need to find a way."
She drew a shaky breath and blew it out, her shoulders sagging as she propped her chin on her knees. "I really am sorry I got you into this...I was just looking to get warm. I didn't expect to bump into The Hills Poolboy." She added lightly.
He sat back and listened to her story. He was amazed she could get her sandwich down so quickly. Obviously she hadn't eaten for a while. By her grimacing, he could tell she didn't like beer.
More for me in case the end of the world happens.
Halfway through her story, she got up off the bed and walked towards her shoes. The impact of her story had not lessened her attractiveness. She was a glorious sight walking in his t shirt. He smirked as she tried to extricate a disk from her shoes without giving him an eyeful. She nearly succeeded, but not quite.
She turned to him and he returned his face to a serious countenance. She threw the disk on the bed in front of him.
"This is what they want to kill you for?" he asked.
She nodded, chewing on the final part of her sandwich.
She moved herself fully onto the bed and sat next to him. She had the t shirt stretched over her knees and all that was showing were her small feet.
Beautiful little feet.
He so wanted to reach out and stroke them, to make her feel safe.
Take it easy, Hansen. You're getting attached. You remember what happened the last time you got attached? Yeah, that's right.
I really should do something about you voices....
He shook his head slightly. She didn't see him and she continued her story. She looked depressed and tired and slumped so that her chin rested on her knees. Her face was doleful.
Hansen, she said 'we'. Now's the time we say, 'nice to meet you, no worries and bye'.
I can't do that. She's fucked. She won't last a day out there on her own. Plus, we've got the electronic shackles.
Someone will know how to decommission the shackles. She's lasted this long.
Dumb luck. Not that she's dumb. We can't listen to this about an epidemic and not do anything. Sounds like she can do something about it.
Great! Save the children, yada yada yada. I don't want to die.
We've never been scared of dying before. We can really stick it to those fucking monsters and for once it won't be W.I.I.F.M.
Don't pull that 'what's in it for me' shit. Remember the last time you did something because it was the right thing to do? No one is alive.
He's Carl. He's unkillable.
Fuck it, I'm helping her.
It's your problem.
Hansen smiled to himself.
Oh, no it's not. You'll be there too. Thanks bro'.
He brought himself back into the room and looked at her.
"Ha," he said to her, "I'd whip The Hills Pool Boy's ass!"
He got up and went to the bench. He put his jeans and t shirt on. He didn't want her to feel uncomfortable. He pulled another beer from the fridge and took a long drag on it. Then he placed his hands on the bench and looked at her on the bed.
"So these bastards are going to start an epidemic and then keep the cure so that they can regulate who dies and who doesn't?"
She nodded. She looked tired.
"And this disk has everything you need to develop a cure?"
She nodded again. She looked really tired now.
Maybe the time for questions is tomorrow.
He walked over to the bed. He took her hand and lifted her onto her feet. He pulled the covers of the bed back and lay her down on there. When she was laying her head on the pillow, he pulled the covers back over her. He sat on the edge of the bed and stroked her shoulder and head a couple of times.
"Well, Irish, this is your lucky week," he said. "I have a couple of spare days to save the world. We'll work out the fee later, but because you let me stick my hands down your pants, I reckon a discount is in order. Plus, I can't very well spend my fee if I don't save the world. How incentivised."
He looked down at her, smiling for a few moments, then he leant over and kissed her on the forehead.
He got up, sculled the last of his beer and switched the light off in the room. He went to the bed and lay next to her, on top of the covers.
I was just going to have a beer and now I'm saving the world.
You're a dickhead, Hansen.
"Shut up," he said.
He felt her flinch.
"Sorry," he said, "I wasn't talking to you."
The voice in his head smiled.
Suicide. That's what this is. Suicide.
She was too tired to argue as he tucked her into his bed, even more surprised when he gently caressed her head and shoulder and then dropped a kiss on her head. Big bad Liam was showing a softer side which she was going to quickly get used to if he didn't stop.
There were other issues to tackle of course. Like the fact that they were literally stuck together due to the implanted devices. She tried to focus on the things she needed to talk to him about, but fatigue was quickly taking over and soon was lulled by the warmth of the room and comfort of his bed. She was half asleep when she heard him. His voice rang clear in the silence of the room.
She flinched, jerking back awake and then settled down again. Too tired to wonder who he thought he was talking to, she drifted off with a soft yawn.
Emma slept hard, but sometime in the night stirred, her body stiffening at the feel of Liam's body curled up against her own, one heavy arm over her hip, his hand splayed loosely over her abdomen. The panic that sharply spiked soon dissipated when she realized where she was and who he was. He must have rolled she realized, seeking comfort and warmth himself and it felt good. His warm breath fanned her clean hair, tickling her scalp. Smiling to herself, she let it be, feeling secure and protected and let herself drift back into the blackness.
Meanwhile, the silver haired man followed the woman and walked into the office. He was meeting Paul Lindeman, the Chairman of Pfizaxson, the largest drug company in the world.
The woman pointed him to a seat and he sat across the desk from Lindeman. The size of the desk meant that he was still a few meters away from him.
"So what the fuck happened?" asked Lindeman. He was fat. He was bald. And he was bombastic. Three things the silver haired man detested.
But he was the Chairman of Pfizaxson, so he basically ran the country. Years ago, he would have been called The President, but that had ceased with the end of democracy.
"We lost her," said the silver haired man. "But we'll find her again. Soon."
"The news stream said it was fucking carnage down there," said Lindeman, banging the desk.
Lindeman's antics didn't bother the silver haired man. He'd seen worse. He'd done worse.
"Yes, they killed eighteen men and critically injured two."
Lindeman looked across at him and raised his eyebrows. "So there were people with the girl?"
"Yes," said the silver haired man. "Liam Hansen and Carl O'Shaughnessy. It looks like she has business...."
Lindeman put his hand up and cut him off.
"Hang on there," he said. "You're telling me, that two men and a female scientist took out twenty of your crack Special Police Force members? Please, don't tell me that. Do you know how much money we give you to run the SPF? Do you?" he yelled.
"Yes, sir," he said.
"Last year it was over fucking fifty, fucking million, fucking dollars. I was part of the committee that set up the SPF to protect the interests of our country and our corporations."
"Yes, sir," said the silver haired man. "I understand that. We will get her."
Lindeman wasn't satisfied.
"Dammit! Two men and a fucking girl scientist putting billions of dollars at risk...."
"Sir, if I may ask, what does the girl have that makes it imperative to kill her?"
Lindeman looked at him impassively, but his face was getting redder.
"No, you may not fucking ask. It doesn't fucking matter and it's none of your fucking business!" he yelled. "I want her fucking dead. Get it. D.E.A.D.... Dead!"
The silver haired man nodded.
"And who the hell are the other fucking guys anyway?"
"Sir, one is Liam Hansen...."
Lindeman smashed the table again with his fist.
"You already told me that!!"
"Sir, you don't understand...."
"What the fuck? I don't understand...."
The silver haired man interrupted him.
"Sir, Liam Hansen is his real name, but seven years ago he worked under the name of Patrick Flannery."
Lindeman went quiet and his face looked worried.
"Patrick Flannery? The Patrick Flannery? From Australia."
The silver haired man nodded.
Lindeman looked more thoughtful now, less antagonistic.
"He destroyed Hardacre Industries. He killed all their management....He murdered the Chairman and CEO on tape and had it sent to every corporation...."
"Yes, sir," said the silver haired man. "He did."
"And you never caught him?"
"No, sir," he said. "He was underground. He was harmless, just doing some small jobs for small dissident groups. Chasing informers, running guns, that sort of thing. But...."
"Yes?" said Lindeman
"Sir, but two years ago we captured his wife and daughter," he said. "We lured him in by promising him that they would be released if he came in and gave himself up."
"I never heard about this. What happened?"
"Sir, when he met our people at the meeting point, the guards shot his wife and child...." the silver haired man paused. "....in front of him."
"Yes, sir. What we didn't know was that he had brought Carl O'Shaughnessy and a team of men with him. He escaped."
"Now you have a fucking angry killing machine with nothing to live for?"
The silver haired man nodded.
"Yes, sir. He is extremely dangerous. In the opinion of many, he poses more risk to our way of life than a rogue state."
"Yes, sir. That is the term used most often in reference to Hansen. Shit."
Lindeman sat back, his fat gut spilling over the belt of his pants.
"Well, we need to kill them all then. If Hansen is working with the girl, then we need to terminate him as well. We can't afford loose ends."
"Yes, sir," nodded the silver haired man. "As soon as I leave here, I will put out an order that Hansen, O'Shaughnessy and the girl are to be terminated with extreme prejudice. There will be no option or scope for their survival."
Lindeman looked at him.
"I don't care how many men you need, what you need, you have it. Just call. Whatever it fucking takes."
The silver haired man looked impassively at him.
"Thank you, sir," he said and started to get up from his seat.
"I want them all dead," reiterated Lindeman, as if saying it often enough would make it happen.
"Yes, sir," said the silver haired man as he started to walk to the door.
"Wait," called Lindeman.
"Don't fuck this up."
"I won't, sir," he said.
He turned and walked out the door.
Liam lay there next to Emma, listening to her breathing till it became regular and he knew she was asleep. Then he quietly rose from the bed, switched off the heater and got back into bed, this time under the sheets. He kept his clothes on as he didn't want any misunderstandings. He found it hard to fall asleep with her body next to him. He hadn't slept next to someone for over two years.
He tried to keep a respectful distance from her, but as he got tired and his body shut down, he rolled and touched her. Then he pulled her a little closer and wrapped his arm around her. It was an automatic response, but in the fog of his mind he knew what he was doing.
She's asleep, she won't remember tomorrow. I need something. I need to touch her....
He pressed his face to the top of her head, smelling the soap on her hair. He smiled to himself as he realized he was lying at forty five degrees so that there would be no possible contact of his lower body with hers.
Ah, gentleman Hansen....
Her warmth and the comfort of holding her gently led him to sleep only to awake again moments later, thinking the voices would never stop. He knew what they're problem was. They could see what was coming.
Love no one. Care for no one. It makes you weak. It only hurts you.
So you let her fend for herself? Let her die. Like Jess....
You couldn't save them. You're 0 for 1.
Please? Just shut up....
The girl. Emma. He could feel her next to him in the darkness. She was warm and pressing back into him. He was holding her, his arm over her waist, her breathing rhythmical and comforting. He pressed his head against hers.
You won't die.
Oh, like Jess? Like Cassie?
You won't die....
He fell back to sleep.
They were standing at the river. In his hands, he held the note and he held a disk.
"Drop the weapon and come forward," boomed the voice from the loudspeaker.
There were cars everywhere. They were in a horseshoe formation, about fifty metres from him. In the middle of the horseshoe, there were SPF's and they had Jessica and Cassie.
He had to yell.
"What about them?" he said.
"They're safe," came the voice. "You have our word on that."
He started to walk forward. Carl and the others were there. They were hidden, but they were there. Somewhere. Their first priority was his wife and daughter. He kept walking forward.
When he was about twenty metres away, he stopped.
"Let them go now," he said.
The men guarding his wife and daughter moved back slightly.
The damned loudspeaker. Why couldn't they just talk to him?
"When we have you, then they will be released, not before. Move forward. I repeat, once you are secured, they will be released unharmed."
He was willing to take the risk. They didn't know about Carl and the others. The plan had been for him to not be apprehended at all, but this was his wife and his daughter. If this was what it took, then so be it. Fuck, if it came down to that, if his wife and daughter were safe, then he didn't care if he was apprehended and killed.
As long as they were safe.
He was so close he could speak to them in a normal voice.
"Oh, Liam," cried Jessica. "You shouldn't have come."
"There, there," he said, "everything'll be alright."
His daughter was crying, hanging on to her mother's leg. His chest felt tight watching her so distraught.
"It'll be ok, Cassie. Daddy promises."
He was circled by the SPF's. He held his hands out and they fastened his wrists together with the polymer locks.
A man came out of the largest vehicle. He was a cold looking man, his face thin and his hair was silver. He didn't wear a helmet. Odd for the SPF, but he was obviously of a high rank. He turned to the men holding the woman and the girl.
"Let them go."
The helmeted officers just stood there.
He looked to Hansen with a stern look.
"You'll pay for all you've done, Flannery, but I keep my word."
"Thanks," said Hansen, "and fuck you."
The corners of the silver haired man's mouth tried to rise in a smile, but it looked like his face would crack if he continued so he reverted to a compassionless stare. He turned back to his men.
"Ok, Lieutenant, we have Flannery, now let them go."
"Sir, those aren't our orders."
The silver haired man looked at them as if he'd misheard.
"Your orders, Lieutenant," he said slowly, "are to do what I tell you to do."
"Sir, those aren't our orders."
Two SPF's walked up behind the silver haired man and stood beside him. Then another came up behind him. The silver haired man was caught in his own horseshoe.
He looked at Flannery. Flannery looked at him. Something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong.
"Sir," said the Lieutenant, "our orders are to show Flannery what happens to anyone who tries to disrupt our way of life."