Anchors No More #31: Bend Not BreakAug 18, 2014
It was Holly’s idea to plant Brandon in the laboratory crowd thinking it could be a way to sway opinion without force having to be applied. Now she could only hope that she had been right. It comforted her to know Steven and Carla were there, guns raised at the detained scientists, reminding them that discretion was still expected as they came to grips with the actuality of their situation.
When Brandon proclaimed his supposedly unbiased support for Holly and her mission, several of the scientists around him stood and grumbled in protest. One of them, an older man with patchy grey hair atop a softly weathered face shouted out, “What’s going on here? What do you want?”
Holly looked at Steven. He raised an eyebrow. Holly knew that eyebrow raise: it was her call, he had her back but it was her play to make. She met Carla’s eyes next and received a determined stare. They were ready, in the next few minutes James and Mike would be there, hopefully to contain, not exacerbate, the situation. Holly just had to stall, placate, enlighten until back up arrived.
“We don’t want to hurt anybody, I want to make that clear,” she said, gazing at the older gentleman, “But I need to stress that it’s important we do what we came to do,” she looked around the group, “Very important. Unfortunately that means that we are willing to hurt or be hurt doing it, please know that.”
The scientists understood she was serious as their attention was drawn back to the pair of rifles pointed at them. They settled themselves, taking knees and sitting positions. Holly looked back to the older man, “I am Holly Marshall,” she said, “this is Doctor Steven Jenkins and this is Doctor Carla Green.” The whispering swelled again with the revelation of these names. Holly continued quickly, “Don’t think that they will hesitate just because they used to work here, remember what they had to become instead of what they were.”
To emphasize the point, Steven made sure to flick a lever on his rifle, tighten its scope on the front row of discombobulated theorists. “Any minute now,” Holly continued, “Doctors James Brammer and Mike Foreman will be joining us,” again voices raised, heads looked around, worries and shock were voiced. Beside her, Steven made a sharp extended ‘hiss,’ shushing the din of confusion.
“Please,” she begged, “hear me out.”
“Holly, what have you done?” asked another scientist, a thin man, younger than Holly with light brown hair and blue-grey eyes hidden behind thick glasses.
She recognized him. “Liam,” she said, “I didn’t even see you.”
Liam shook his head and said, “Do you have any idea what you’re doing? Do you know where you are? You can’t…” he stammered, staring at her, his eyes wide as he gawked at his old colleague, “What have you done?”
She almost cried, an angsty burning lump sprung from her chest into her throat but she caught it before it spilled out. Don’t look weak, Restrepo told her yesterday, no matter what you feel or what you want to do, you hold it in. You maintain the sense of power you created. Do not look weak. “What’s done is done,” she said, “What you need to ask me about is what we are doing.”
“What are you doing?” Liam slowly asked, going back to his bent knee, feeling the weight of Steven’s gun pointing at his chest.
Holly swept the room with a lingering gaze, meeting each of the captives’ eyes, “We need all of you here right now to understand how important it is that they don’t gain control of my technology. The MTD, the intentions they have for it…” she looked at the older man, “I know you all know some of the possibilities but I can tell you, unquestioningly, that the actual reality is beyond anything resembling morality.” She turned to Liam, able to finally look in his eyes, “And I can not honestly tell you that we’re here to fix any bad thing we’ve done.” She took a deep breath, her eyes pleading for Liam to see the sincerity of her words, “Though we’re here to try and we’re here to not let it get worse.”
Silence fell across the lab as the small herd of detainees mulled over her statement. The murmuring hush was interrupted a few seconds later by the door opening at the top of the stairs. Two pairs of footsteps walked down the stairs and Holly turned to greet James and Mike. It took a moment to register that the two faces were unrecognizable, that she had never seen them before.
The two ARLIS guards raised their rifles and began barking out orders that may as well have been in some alien tongue for all Holly could understand. Distorted voices in a growing incohesion, she felt dizzy, holding her hand to her temple as Steven raised his rifle. Carla shouted something and raised hers as well. The scientists between them knelt in the crossfire and Holly’s vertigo grew. Staring down the barrel of the rifle, shouting for raised hands, for guns to be put down. Footsteps, more footsteps, and running and scuffling. She held her head in her hands, cradling her skull and ducking down as one gunshot echoed in the basement, stinging Holy’s ears. Screams filled the air as her head swam, as she tried to balance herself on boneless knees. A fight broke out, cursing and Kevlar body armor clashed together. Somebody fell into Holly, knocking her to the ground.
The melee around her climaxed and waned until only heavy breathing and random boot scuffling remained. Holly looked up in time to James step forward and say, “It’s over,” as he stared down at the guard Steven was holding by the neck, “just let this happen and no one dies.”
The other guard struggled briefly in Mike’s arms before settling down and saying, “Holly Marshall, you are under arrest for treason Article Four Twe…”
“We know the order, dumbass,” James interrupted, “What we don’t know is if we’re going to have to kill both of you or just you so shut up and let us think.”
Both guards fell silent, James chanced a glance at Holly who was still staring at him, not sure when he arrived, all the fighting and gun pointing and shouting… he gave her a wink and hummed the first few notes of the William Tell Overture.
© David Edward Wagner 2014. All Rights Reserved.