What are Jana and friends doing while Olivia searches for them and Jeanine plans their rescue?
In an adventure vid, our escape from Nathan’s apartment would have turned into an extended action scene complete with a hail of blaster bolts and a high-speed chase through the center of the city. In reality, we reached the end of the escape tunnel without any problems. Nathan collapsed the tunnel behind us and then we drove away in a car he had waiting in a garage. No blaster fire. No high-speed chases.
Over the next two hours, we changed cars twice before Nathan drove us into an underground parking area on the edge of an industrial district. Since the district was undergoing conversion into an upscale residential area, our arrival wouldn’t raise any suspicion.
Thirty minutes later, Nathan and I were unpacking and setting up a new slicing station. Mark and Kelly were inspecting the perimeter defenses and alarms while Tilly fixed an early breakfast for us. When the food was ready, Tilly insisted we all gather at the table.
She overrode all protests by declaring, “We need a council of war, and that means we all need to sit together. Now stop bitching and come to the table.”
We spent the first few minutes savoring the food. But, as our hunger was sated, we turned our attention to the problem at hand.
“Mark and I were extremely careful last night,” Tilly said. “Considering my profession, I think you’ll agree I know how to remain unnoticed. Mark does too if last night is any indication. I can’t think of anything we did that would have tipped off the RIA.”
“We believe you, Tilly,” I said. “But any speculation along this line is premature. Once Nathan and I have the slicing station set up, we can find out what happened.”
Kelly joined the conversation, “It doesn’t really matter how the RIA found us. Based on my experience in the Neert Space Patrol, you’ll spend a lot of time searching for answers and discover the blame can be assigned to bad luck. We have much more important things to do.”
Mark frowned, “Such as?”
“Jana and Nathan need to learn what the RIA is doing to find us again. Equally as important, they need to find out what the RIA is doing to block our way off Xapreathea.” Kelly turned her attention from Mark to Nathan, “And I need access to external communication. I need to leave a message for Drake and Jeanine.”
“What about the Star Stone?” I asked. “It’s the reason we’re here, after all.”
Kelly shook her head, “I’m afraid it’s just going to have to wait. We have more important things to worry about than a big, sparkly rock.”
Everyone else around the table was nodding in passive agreement. I slammed both fists down on the table, “No! Nothing is more important than finding out more about the Star Stone. Nothing. Not our escape, not even our lives.”
My friends stared at me as if I had grown horns and a tail. I met their stares with a glare. “I’m serious. You have not been inside the Star Stone. You have no concept what it can see and what it can do. I only have a vague idea of its capabilities, but it is not a friend of the human race. I believe it has spent thousands upon thousands of years manipulating mankind from the top down. Whether it’s setting us up to be pliant slaves for its creators or working to get us to destroy ourselves or something I haven’t thought of yet, the Star Stone must be investigated, understood, and countered. Barring that, it must be destroyed.”
Kelly cut a concerned glance towards Tilly, who met it and matched it. Mark stared at me in complete incomprehension. Nathan looked surprised at my outburst but looked as if he was considering what I’d said.
Tilly spoke first, “We’re all short on sleep, especially Jana and Nathan. I think we can spare a few hours to get some rest, don’t you?”
I ran a hand through my hair and glared at my friend, “I’m not being irrational, Tilly.”
Tilly met my glare with a mild look, “I never said you were. In all the time we’ve worked together, you’ve always been supremely rational. All I’m saying is a little sleep would help us all. Nathan, do you believe we are in any immediate danger?”
He shook his head, “No, we’ve probably got two or three days before we have to worry about discovery.”
“That settle it,” Tilly said, her tone brooking no argument. “Finish your breakfast and then get some sleep.”
“I do want that external line of communications before everyone retires,” Kelly said.
“No problem,” Nathan said. “I can set that up in a matter of minutes.”
After that, we ate in silence and then stacked our dishes in the kitchen. Tilly and Mark went to their rooms while Nathan took a couple of minutes to satisfy Kelly’s request.
I just sat at the table, too keyed up to think about sleep. When Nathan turned the communications array over to Kelly, he came looking for me. He stood behind me kneading my shoulders, which felt heavenly.
“You’re way too tense to fall asleep, aren’t you Jana?”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
I shook my head, “You have to experience the Star Stone for yourself.”
“Okay, then to hell with sleep. Let’s make a run on the Star Stone right now.”
“Not yet, Nathan. I’ve been thinking about how to ensure your safety while we’re inside the Star Stone. I know how to get out, but I’m not sure I can teach you how.”
“If you think I’m going to let you make another run on the Star Stone by yourself, you’ve got another think coming.”
“I wasn’t suggesting that. I just think it would help if you and I were more closely connected before we made the run.”
Nathan stopped kneading my shoulders, “There aren’t that many ways I can think of to form that kind of connection.”
“I can only think of one. Fortunately, it’s also a very good way to release tension.” I stood and kissed Nathan gently. “Which room has the biggest bed?”
Will Jana and Nathan make a run on the Star Stone after they…release some tension? Find out in Chapter 29 of The Recognition Resistance.