Outward Bound
Chapter 8

Copyright© 2020 by UtIdArWa

For the next hour, Susan was jumping on and off the express. She would walk around, reversing directions looking at the reflection in store windows. All the time worried that she was being followed. Sure that at any time, there would be a hand grabbing her shoulder.

At one point, she considered heading to her quarters. But halfway there, she realized that would be the obvious place to be waiting for her. She felt that he was running out of time and was beginning to panic. She decided that there was only one place she could hide in.

Susan burst through Emily’s door and slammed it shut. Jessica was seated at the reception desk and jumped when the door slammed. Susan immediately headed to Emily’s office door. She ignored Jessica’s questions and went into the office without comment.

Emily, seated at her desk, stared at Susan open-mouthed. “What the hell Susan? what’s wrong?”

Susan leaned against the door. Her face was flushed, and her hands were trembling. “Aunty Emily, I followed that kid just like you said.”

“Yes, I remember. What happened that has got you in this condition?”

Susan took a deep breath and started explaining, “Well, when he got off work, I followed him down to the residential levels. When he got to level 60, he met a man in the plaza. They started talking.”

Emily interrupted, “What were they saying? was I mentioned?”

Frustrated, Susan almost yelled, “I don’t know. I couldn’t get close enough to hear. But that’s not the point.”

Now Emily was getting upset “Don’t keep me waiting, girl, what is the point?”

The fear returned to Susan’s eyes. “The man, the kid was talking to I recognized him. He’s a security officer. In the Intelligence section.”

Emily paused in thought for a moment. “Was he in uniform?”

“No, it was civilian clothes. He was dressed better than the locals. It didn’t look like he fit in.”

Emily paused again. Susan, in a panic, broke her chain of thought. “Aunty Emily, I think he recognized me. I met him at a command meeting a couple of months ago. What are we going to do, Aunty? They’ll be coming for me. I’ve got to find a place to hide.” Susan was getting increasingly agitated.

Emily was almost in a panic herself. But she had been there before and knew that she had to remain calm and think. “Settle down, Susan. Here, have a cup of tea while I think about this.” Emily went to her sideboard and prepared a cup of tea. Then she handed Susan the tea and directed her over to a couch. “Just sit here and relax if they are looking for you it’ll take them a while to look here. I’ll hide you until we can figure something out.”

Susan leaned back and started sipping her tea. Emily started pacing back and forth, deep in thought. After 30 minutes, she glanced over to Susan. She was curled up on the couch fast asleep. “Finally,” she thought.

She stepped into the adjoining room. “Jessica, I need a line to a dirtside number.” she read off the number she wanted. “Let me know when they answer.” she went back into her office and sat down.

Ten minutes later, the phone rang. “Council member Johnson,” she answered.

“Aunty Emily, I have that party on the line.”

“Thank you, Jessica, please connect us and give me some privacy please.”

“Yes, Ma’am, please go ahead.” there was an audible click.

A rough voice came on the phone. “Alright, woman, what is it now? it’s too early for any action.”

Emily unused to being spoke to like this barked, “Be quiet, Clyde. I’ve got a problem, and I need your help.”

Now the voice was just as mad as Emily. “Woman, haven’t you ever heard of security? No names on the phone. We have no idea who is listening in.”

“Clyde, this is serious. I may have a security problem.” she then repeated the day’s events. Including that Susan had become a liability.

Clyde was chuckling. “Well, that sounds like a real pickle. What do you plan to do about it?”

Emily was getting irritated again, “Clyde, I want you to make this problem disappear. At least until we complete our plans.”

Clyde responded cryptically, “Really? That far? are you sure about this?”

Satisfied that she was making progress, Emily continued. “Yes, I’ve thought about it. I can’t take the chance of her getting questioned and giving up something important. I need you to put her on ice. I believe that’s the phrase. She has got to be out of the picture, now.”

“Ok, Ok, Ok, I get the idea. But you know this is going to cost you extra. This is above and beyond our original agreement.”

Emily understood the mercenary mind. She was used to money and power, using both to get the results she wanted. “I understand just add the cost to the next bill you send. Label it as visual effects. That’s simple enough to pass the accountants. And remember it has to go through the right channels.”

Clyde was becoming bored. This conversation had been going on for too long. “Yeah, yeah, I know how it works. Can you get the pidgin on the next flight dirtside? Tell her she’ll be met at the spaceport. The driver will take her to a resort spa for the duration.”

“I can do this. I’ll let you know the flight information when I get it.”

“All right, I’ll get everything set up on this end.”

Emily disconnected the call and looked over at her couch. Susan was still asleep. Emily started looking through flights to the Lowell spaceport. As soon as she booked the seat, she texted the info to Clyde.

Emily got up and gently shook Susan. “Susan, wake up. Come on, dearie, time to wake up.”

Susan sat up and started rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “I’m sorry I must have fallen asleep. Do you have a plan?”

“Yes, dear, I’ve got it all planned. Later tonight we’ll get you on a flight dirtside. I’ll have a transport waiting for you. He’ll take you to a spa that I know. It’s a nice place in the outback. You’ll stay there until we are in charge. Then I’ll bring you back up.”

When Susan arrived at Port Lowell, she was scared. She was alone and influential people were looking for her. The past several hours had been the most frightening in her life. During the layover on Mars station, she spent her time huddled in a stall in the ladies’ room positive that every time the door opened, it was a security team coming to arrest her.

Now that she was on Mars, her journey was almost over. The final hurdle was going to be Mars border control.

The flight into Port Lowell had 15 passengers. A thin crowd at that. Which was ok with the control clerk. It was getting close to the end of her shift, and she was tired. It could have been much worse. If there had been a cruise ship or an immigration flight, they would have been swamped. Hundreds if not thousands of people would be crowding the gates. Even operating short-handed like this morning, they would have these folks processed and on their way quickly. Another benefit was that these were station members. Technically Mars citizens and not really needing a full security check.

The line quickly shrank down. All she needed to do was verify that the person was a citizen and that there weren’t any wants or warrants on them. But as usual, there was always ‘that one,’ and they always seemed to be the last in line, not the first.

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