Chase | Development 9

Chase | Development 9

If someone had told Chase he would voluntarily spend an evening held at gunpoint, he would have laughed in their face. But here he was, marching across the boardwalk and up the steps of the Hub, a pistol held to his head. Chase tried desperately not to bump into Sebastian, his self-proclaimed arch-enemy, but it was no use. Both of them were forced together in his strange dance with Braya. Agent X. Whoever she was. She walked confidently behind them, a knife held to Sebastian’s throat.

At the top of the steps, Agent X confidently told the guards she had completed her mission with a bonus captive. “I request a meeting with the executive council,” she said with such conviction that Chase almost believed he would be tried before a panel of powerful gods. His heart was in his throat as the head guard looked him up and down.

The guard was still a kid, maybe eighteen or nineteen years old, but something about him looked dull and lifeless. He reminded Chase of the kids in the worst suburbs of Corver City. Neglected and hungry for something, a hunger that drove even the best of them into the worst possible situations. Chase had no clue whether the guard would allow two captives. Had the Citadel radioed about the narcolepsy bomb? If not, the call would certainly come in a few minutes. Chase couldn’t shake the feeling that if the trio didn’t get to safety fast, they would all be dead by dark.

“Very well,” the guard let them move forward. Chase had the strong urge to look over his shoulder and gauge Agent X’s expression, to see whether she smiled or frowned, but he had to act like her prisoner. He kept his head down. 

Walking into the Hub was like stepping into another world, a world that knew nothing about military dictatorships and trained assassins. The bustling crowd of people looked almost exactly like the office workers at Heathrow Heights. Regular people, mixed with the occasional government professional and lab coat-wearing scientist. Chase spotted classy suits, chic dresses, and a jean-clad intern carrying a cardboard tray of five o’clock coffees. It was strange, to see something so normal in such an evil place. Plus, everyone seemed shocked to see a Malum soldier and her captives.

There was no way they were going to blend in.

“Where do I go?” Agent X hissed at Sebastian. “I’ve only been in here once.”

“Only once?” Sebastian hissed back. Chase’s anxiety spiked. Usually he had a good read on situations like this, but all of this was new, and Agent X had seemed so confident before. This was throwing him for a loop.

“Stairs on the left of the elevator,” Sebastian continued. “Fifth floor, turn right.”

The stairwell was blessedly empty. The moment the trio entered, alarm bells started to sound, and they broke into a sprint up the stairs. Sebastian huffed and puffed, but Chase’s police training was coming in handy. He and Agent X made it to the top without even breaking a sweat. 

“I’ve got another narc bomb, but it’s not programmed to save you,” Agent X said to Sebastian. 

“From my stash? Use it.”

They flung open the fifth-floor door and made a mad dash to the right. Someone shouted. BANG! The world went gray. This time, Chase was prepared. He blindly followed Sebastian’s dark, willowy frame. There were small pinpoints of light up ahead. A door? He hurdled through, and the door slammed shut and locked behind him.

Chase sprawled across the floor. He hoisted himself up in a daze, the particles slowly dissipating. “How are you–” he said, pointing an accusing finger at Sebastian, who stood with his back against the door. 

“They’re my bombs that you stole from my private jet! Of course I programmed them to protect me.”

“Stole is a strong word,” said Agent X in the haze. Then Chase heard it. A noise, a small whimper, coming from the opposite side of the room.

Chase took in the scene. The room looked like a spa. He’d only gotten a massage once, after he messed up his back during a hit, but that massage place wasn’t near as fancy. With the string lights, green plants, gauzy curtains, cabinets, and medical equipment, it was like he was on a weird yoga retreat. Chase knew from training to check for security cameras, but even in a high-profile place like this, there wasn’t anything on the ceiling. No sprinklers, no reflective surfaces, no nothing. Then he located the source of the noise, a figure hunched in the corner by a long row of cabinets and windows. It was a woman in a white coat, her red hair braided and obscuring her face.

“Please don’t hurt me!” she begged. “Please.”

“Who do you work for?” 

Agent X’s words were sharp, coming from behind Chase, and he finally let himself turn and look at her. Braya’s eyes looked much bigger to Chase now that she had somehow lost her costume glasses. She looked formidable, training her navy blue pistol on the woman.

“I’m a researcher, please, I just run the machines–”

“These machines?” Agent X kicked the chair in the middle of the room, where wires hung down from the ceiling like the long, twisted tentacles of a jellyfish. 

“The recovery room! You’ve probably never been here before, agent. I help people. I help soldiers just like you!”

Chase noticed a flurry of movement near the woman’s lap. She was typing something out on a device, calling someone, maybe her boss. Sebastian gasped. Chase shot forward. But before they could do anything, there was a gunshot, and the woman collapsed, unconscious.

“What did you do!” Chase’s throat closed up in horror. He hated when innocent civilians got mixed up in heavy fire, but that was a cold, calculated choice. 

“We don’t have time for this,” Agent X said. And now when he looked at her, all Chase could see was the face of a criminal.

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