"Take what back?"
"The talents you’ve enhanced, of course."
She laughed. "I can't do that." Ridiculous. If she could, she’d know, wouldn’t she?
“Certainly you can. Have you never tried?”
No, she hadn’t. How would it even work? Giving talent was involuntary. But taking it away?
"How do you know this?"
"You're not the first Midas I've had the privilege to m--."
He was cut off when the door closed abruptly. Unnoticed by either, Freidman had joined them in the makeshift medical bay. He raised his arm, a matte black pistol with a suppressor an extension of his hand. There was a snap, a spurt of red, and the doctor crumpled to the floor.
Kat sucked in her breath, too surprised to scream - even to move. Freidman then turned the gun on her.
Her mouth moved involuntarily. Over the thrumming of her pulse, she heard herself say: "You need me. You still need me for what I can do."
"No, not really" he said. "It’s going to be a setback, having to find and train up another. But you're too dangerous now."
"I'm not. I don't know what he was talking about. I'll cooperate. Please don't."
He stared at her hard, but relaxed his arm. "I prefer not to elicit cooperation through fear. But you should know, if you cross me…if you run...we can and will find you."
Kat reached out in supplication, but he took a quick leap backwards as if avoiding the jaws of a viper. She withdrew, remembering too late what the doctor had told her - what Freidman now feared.
His arm steadied. Time slowed. His finger muscles flexed and drew in on the trigger. She should close her eyes. She shouldn’t watch this. Yes she should. Here it comes.
But it didn’t.
Something – no someone – knocked into Freidman just as the hammer fell. The bullet whizzed past the top of her head, her scalp tingling as the hairs rose in its path.
Her rescuer, intended or no, was Bartlett, who now had Freidman pressed up against the sink basin, his shirt collar bunched tightly in his fists. Freidman swung at him, but Bartlett caught his arm. There was a sickening snap as he wrenched it to the side and Freidman yelped, the blow he’d prepared with his other fist landing soft. Bartlett flipped Freidman around so that he faced the basin, and twisted both his arms behind him, rendering him immobile. Freidman was a negotiator, not a fighter. Bartlett hadn’t even worked up a sweat.
“Who do you work for?” Bartlett’s tone was calm, but deadly.
“You already know.”
Bartlett pulled Freidman back only to slam him into the sink again. “And who else?”
“I said who else?” Bartlett was losing patience now, his voice growing rougher. He shoved Freidman forward one more time.
Kat slowly, and as quietly as she could, slid a leg off the edge of the cot until her toe touched the floor. If she could just get to the door – find a way off the ship. Her other leg slid down, and instead of the floor, she put her weight on something…wobbly. And slick.
A strangled half gasp, half shriek escaped her throat as her foot slid off the dead doctor’s scalp into the blood pooling around him. Both Bartlett and Freidman, whipped their heads around to face her, which startled Kat even more and she slipped in the dark red gore, falling forward into an IV stand, clutching wildly at it for support.
She tipped it.
Bartlett shifted out of the way just in time, but Freidman, still wedged between his interrogator and the sink, could not. The stand fell hard into his face, pushed forcefully by Kat’s weight against it.
Bartlett hopped backwards and watched, dumbstruck, as Freidman and IV stand collapsed to the floor and lay still, a saline hook jammed deep into his eye.
They both froze. Kat, horrified. Bartlett, furious.
For more of Megan Paasch:
For more of Megan Paasch:
Website: Rhymes With Smash - http://meganpaasch.wordpress.com