Late January, 2039
Making their way down into the main computer/security room had been easy, as most of the guards were busy with the guests and customers on the casino portion of the boat.
In fact, there were only two guards left to bar the two women's way, and they were easily dealt with with a sneaky blow to the back of the head and a telekinetic throw into a wall.
"Good work," said Korey as she slung her captured gun over her shoulder and slid into place behind the desk. She glanced over the consoles and all the information displayed there, and grinned. "What luck, the gentleman here had logged in just before we got here. This should make my job much easier." She unslung her purse and assembled the mini-computer together before finding a plugin to connect it to.
As Korey worked on the computer, Vivian took up position near the door. She debated a moment, then swung the door mostly shut, leaving it cracked open just enough that she'd be able to hear anyone coming down the hallway. She glanced back nervously at Korey, hoping it wouldn't take her partner too long to hack the system. She already noticed the room they were in had no other exit. If they were discovered here, there was no escape route.
"About how long should this take?" she asked, voice low.
"First, I have to find where he has hidden the money within his database, and then extract it so..." Korey did a few mental calculations as she set the small computer to work. "Fifteen minutes. It is a rather large database."
Vivian glanced back at Korey, dismayed. "That long? Well...do your best." She turned back to the door and sighed. "We'd have to be damned lucky for nobody to notice the missing guards before then..."
And as though Murphy's Law was waiting for her to say just that, there came a flurry of voices from outside, followed by the sound of steps rapidly being descended.
"That does not bode well," said Korey, glancing up from the computer terminal and hefting one of the security guard's guns she had pilfered earlier. "I need to concentrate on this, Vivian, could you handle the guests for the next little while?"
Vivian looked at her, eyes wide. "Uh...I'll try," she said. "But hurry. PK powers are exhausting. I don't know if I have the juice to hold them off for fifteen minutes."
Korey checked her assault gun and nodded, ensuring that the weapon was loaded and ready for bear. "Understood. I should only need... ten minutes, tops, here." She then gave the PK a reassuring smile. "You will do just fine."
Vivian shot her a doubtful look before turning back to the door before her. It was a fairly stout security door and she'd have liked nothing better than to just shut and lock it, but that would only delay the inevitable, as they'd still have to open it and fight their way out eventually.
With a grimace, she stepped out into the corridor. "I'm gonna have to fight from out here, or my power spillover might damage the terminal you're using." She grabbed the door and started to pull it shut behind her. "Yell when you're ready to go!" she added as it shut.
Almost in the same instant, two men in suits appeared at the bottom of the stairs down at the aft end of the corridor. <You! Stop right there!> yelled one in Cantonese, pointing at her.
Trying to avoid hurting them, she thrust her power out not in a sharp bolt of telekinetic energy, but rather in a broad wave of force that tore down the corridor bending or ripping fixtures from the walls, buckling doors in their frames, and shattering many of the overhead light fixtures before slamming the men into the wall behind them. As they slid down the wall, stunned, water began spraying down on them from a sprinkler head that had been ripped off by her blast.
"Whoa," she said, surprised herself at how much damage she'd just done, before suddenly yelping as cold water drenched her as well. Flashing white strobes and a whooping alarm started sounding, and for a horrible instant she thought she'd somehow ripped the hull open and the ship was sinking before she realized that the sprinkler head she'd damaged had triggered the fire alarm and now all the sprinklers in the corridor were activating.
She groaned, hating that she might have to stand and fight in the freezing cold downpour for the next ten minutes, but at least the fire alarms meant that the passengers should be starting to evacuate now.
She noticed through the haze of falling water that the two men at the end of the corridor were moving again. One was struggling to his feet while talking frantically into a lapel mic, while the other, already upright, was reaching inside his jacket as if to draw a gun. She quickly raised her arm, fingers splayed in their direction. <Don't make me put you down!> she said, voice raised. They both froze, and the one man carefully pulled his hand back out into view. <That's better. Now get out!> she commanded, gesturing sharply.
As they quickly ran back the way they'd come, she breathed a sigh of relief. She had no illusions that she was particularly imposing in and of herself, but apparently her display of power had made an impression on them. It would be nice if their fear of facing an esper kept them back until Korey was finished with her hack, but she doubted they'd hold off that long with their employer undoubtedly demanding immediate action. Still, she hoped to have at least a couple of minutes while reinforcements were gathered for a second, more serious go at them.
She glanced at the door, hoping that Korey was making some good progress with her end of things.
A tremor ran through the room and Korey made a grab for the terminal, catching it before it could go crashing to the floor. Moments later, the fire alarm went off and the sprinkler system went off, drenching Korey through in seconds.
"A good thing this is water-proof," she thought as she checked on the hacking process. It was going well, and would be done in the timeframe she had given Vivian, but there was still some concern. After all, Vivian was new and had only just started to work, according to the information she had gathered; there could be problems.
"Got to have faith," she murmured as she checked on the process and her stolen weapons once more.
Thank heavens the sprinkler system had finally run dry. Vivian brushed wet bangs out of her eyes and glanced behind her, then started as she caught a glimpse of two people quickly withdrawing their heads back around the corner at the far end of the corridor. Fearing that a gun might be the next thing to appear there, she quickly shifted the mental pattern of her PK energy into a "wall", popping it into existence just a few feet before the corner. The carpet there seemed to almost explode as the constrained psychokinetic energy tore it apart, and the metal walls of the ship creaked and groaned where her psychokinetic wall intersected them.
Damn, they got their act together a lot faster than I'd hoped. And I can't imagine why I thought I might hear them coming like last time; with that fire alarm still going, I wouldn't hear a marching band coming up behind me right now.
Alarmed by the thought, she glanced behind her and then quickly spun in alarm as she saw another head peeking around the closer corner at the other end of the hall. This time she caught a glimpse of cat-ears as it pulled back. Pumas! She remembered seeing a few Pumas, male and female, keeping an eye on the casino floor. The human guards must have decided to send them in to face off with the esper, rather than risking their own precious hides.
Vivian raised her arm and then paused. The Pumas had done exactly the right thing, coming at her from two sides at once. She hadn't yet mastered the ability to hold more that one PK construct in her head at a time, and if she put a force wall down the other end of the hallway, then the one she already had up would collapse. She found herself hesitating, quickly glancing from side to side, trying to simultaneously keep an eye on each end of the corridor.
As the seconds dragged on, she found herself almost wishing they would stop waiting and just get on with it. Maintaining the PK barrier was starting to tire her, and she could feel the headache starting that usually came when her powers began to push at the limits of her control. Soon she'd either have to drop the protective barrier or risk exhausting herself before the fight. It suddenly occurred to her to wonder if that wasn't their plan. If they learned or guessed that most espers couldn't run at full power for very long, then maybe--
The sharp bark of a gun was terribly loud, easily heard even over the fire alarm claxon. She spun as she felt the impact against her PK force barrier she'd erected. The two Pumas at that end of the hall—a male and a female, she now saw—were back in sight and rapid firing their pistols at her. But although their shots tore at structure of her psychokinetic barrier, it didn't collapse and after a few moments, they were forced to pause and quickly exchange their spent clips for fresh ones.
My god, it really is bullet proof. I could feel it; they didn't even come close to knocking it down. That's so--
Vivian screamed in fear as another gunshot rang out from behind her, and she actually heard the bullet whiz right by her head, *felt* it pass the through the short hair along the right side of her scalp.
Shredded carpeting and other minor debris exploded into the air around her as, almost without thinking, she did the only thing she could to protect herself from all directions at once and created a new PK barrier, this one a protective bubble a few feet in diameter, with her at the center.
Korey shot up with gun in hand as she heard Vivian's scream tear through the security room, and then her eyes widened as she watched the door twist and writhe in its frame. The shaking stopped, and the door, amazingly, stayed within its frame.
Glancing down at the mini-computer, she saw that it was closely approaching 100 percent completion, and would be done in another minute or two.
The problem now, however, was if Vivian could handle things until then?
After a moment Vivian lowered the arms she'd thrown protectively over her head and peeked out, only to gasp in fear at the sight of two obviously angry and frustrated Pumas charging down the hallway toward her. A quick glance revealed the third Puma—the black-haired male who'd almost blown her head off!—coming at her in the other direction.
Oh shit! Gotta keep 'em back!
Dropping her shield for a moment, she quickly launched a psychokinetic blast down the hallway with the lone attacker in it. Eroded by fear and adrenaline, her control was less than perfect, but although her attack was more like a firehose of telekinetic force sprayed down the hallway than the focused beam of power she'd intended, it still did the trick of knocking the Puma off his feet and sending him tumbling backward down the hallway.
She quickly spun toward the other two, raising her hand to attack them the same way, but saw she hadn't been quick enough. In the instant before she was tackled, Vivian realized that she'd forgotten how fast or far a Puma could leap, even though she'd seen Eliza do it many times as they'd played together.
Her breath was knocked out of her as the white-haired female slammed into her., knocking her to the ground. Momentarily too stunned to focus her esper powers, Vivian frantically twisted under the Puma, seeking escape, but only managed to roll herself over before her partner leaped upon her as well.
"Jasper, take her down."
Face pressed into the ground, she could just see the feet of the third Puma, the one who'd almost shot her in the head before, as they approached and stopped just in front of her face.
She struggled even harder, terrified that he was about to execute her with his gun, as he knelt with his knee pressing down between her shoulder blades, driving her face even harder into the floor. But instead of putting his pistol to her head, he grabbed her neck, his fingers digging in painfully hard.
Oh shit! He's cutting off the blood flow to my brain. They're trying to capture me!
Around them, the various bits of glass and other debris from the battle began vibrating and skittering around on the floor as she frantically started summoning up all the esper power she could, hoping to thrust the trio of Puma's off of her with one last blast of force.
As her vision turned into colorful sparkles, an image filled her head of the small dark cell Jinsei had thrown her and the other esper children they'd captured into, and for a moment the cries of the other children, the foul smell of the squalid, overcrowded room seemed more real to her than the weight of the Pumas on her back.
No! I won't be locked up again! I WON'T!
"GET OFF OF ME!!!"
With a beep, the hack finished, and, moments later, the data had been copied over. Korey typed a few more commands in, lacing the network with a few select viruses, before disconnecting the small computer and packing it away in its traveling bag.
Slinging it over her shoulder, she had just enough time to pick up her gun before she heard Vivian's scream of anguish. She took one step from behind the desk, the first in what would have been a sprint to the door when the front wall of the security room exploded.
Wood and steel broke and bent like so much tissue paper and a fresh wave of water came pouring in as Korey was tossed back, saved from the worst of the explosion by the desk that was firmly rooted to the floor in front of her.
Even with honed reflexes kicking in, she crashed against the back wall and slid to the floor, unconscious as even more water began to stream into the room. Her last image before the darkness finally claimed her was that of the utterly destroyed hallway in front of her, and Vivian floating face up....
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