Warp vs Haste
Kyle climbed slowly into the cabin. Toni slipped into the back to give him space, yielding the driver’s seat.
“What happened?” she asked anxiously.
Kyle gave a nervous glance outside. He could still feel Prodigy’s inhuman eyes boring into him. But Silas had vanished, presumably retreating into the vehicle. Perhaps the wind had begun to nibble him at last.
“How much did you see?” said Kyle, not sure how to begin.
“Nothing,” said Two-Bug. He sounded chagrined.
“Nothing?” said Kyle, surprised. “You weren’t watching?”
“As soon as Silas started speaking,” said Toni, “Two-Bug and I turned our backs. We didn’t watch.”
“What? Why the hell did you do that? I could have been ambushed out there –”
Kyle stopped speaking. Two-Bug was staring at the floor, and Toni looked very unsettled.
“Oh,” said Kyle, reading their pained expressions. “Prodigy?”
“Had to be,” said Two-Bug, still not meeting his eyes.
“He made you turn around, so you couldn’t watch,” said Kyle.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Toni admitted. Unlike Two-Bug, she seemed to be willing to talk about it. All the words tumbled out in a rush. “We both looked away simultaneously. We just sat here, not moving, until a few seconds ago. I know we should have had your back…”
Toni bit her lip. “I’m so sorry, Kyle.”
“It’s okay,” Kyle reassured her. “He must have seen you both in the cabin. Believe me, it wasn’t your fault.”
Two-Bug was coming back to life. He punched the dash. “That fucker,” he said.
Kyle nodded wearily. “One thing’s for sure. Prodigy certainly lives up to his rep.”
“I’ve studied his file,” said Toni. “He’s a psychic dominator, the most powerful one on record. If you don’t stay focused, he’ll turn your brain to oatmeal.”
“Yeah, I picked up on that,” said Kyle dryly. “Did you manage to contact Whiskers, at least?”
“We radioed, told him to stand by for now. Don’t know if he received okay.”
“Thanks.” Kyle slumped back in his chair, suddenly feeling exhausted.
Toni leaned closer. “Tell us what happened with Prodigy.”
Kyle took a deep breath to steady himself. Then he quickly summarized their conversation. He tried to remain dispassionate, describing events as objectively as possible. Toni’s eyes widened when he mentioned the glimpse of Prodigy he’d had while sprawled on the asphalt.
“Do you think…?” she asked.
“That’s what he really looks like?” said Kyle. “Yeah. I do.”
Toni grimaced. “He sounds hideous.”
“There’s some folks who got plenty messed up by the Pulse,” said Two-Bug, shaking his head. “But I never heard of anybody who looks like that.”
“I don’t know of many who can psychically alter their appearance with their minds, either. He’s not a shapeshifter – he’s changing his appearance with his mind, with some kind of illusion,” said Kyle. “Prodigy is full of surprises.”
He stared through the windshield at the blowing snow. “He claims this winter storm is his doing.”
“That could be,” said Toni. “I’ve heard November Legion recruited Shard a few months ago. She’s definitely capable of something like this.”
“That would explain why the forecast was so far off,” said Two-Bug.
“Do you think he really has the Package Red team?” asked Toni.
“No,” said Kyle firmly. “In fact, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t.”
“The hell does that mean?” growled Two-Bug,
“I couldn’t figure out why Zone and Whip bagged up Bear and Mina,” said Kyle. “If the Package is the objective, why send critical assets like Zone and Whip chasing after them?”
“I don’t know,” said Two-Bug.
“Because they’re bargaining chips. If the ghoul failed to pacify Caspar and Two-Bug, Prodigy was ready to trade them for Blue. They were his back-up plan. That’s why they were nicely wrapped in restraint bags.”
Two-Bug and Toni nodded slowly in agreement. Toni said, “So Prodigy didn’t need Package Red.”
“No. Prodigy is after someone named Alicia Brazil. He claims she’s our passenger. But he couldn’t have known which rig she was on, Red or Blue. So he hit both, and hit them hard. Two-Bug, when you faced off with the ghoul, you get the impression he was under orders to take prisoners?”
Two-Bug barked laughter. “Fuck no. He was going to ace me, same way he done Caspar.”
“That’s what I thought,” said Kyle. “The team that took Package Red went in to kill. The same way they came after us.”
“So the Red team…?” said Toni, with mounting alarm.
“Almost certainly dead,” said Kyle.
Cold anger flared in Toni’s eyes. “And their package?” asked Two-Bug.
Kyle had gotten a quick glimpse of Red as they’d loaded their package. A young mother and her daughter. The girl had been clutching a coloring book and talking excitedly to her mother as they walked.
“Prodigy is after Alicia Brazil,” said Kyle. “When he learned Red didn’t have her… my guess is, he left no witnesses. Of any kind.”
Two-Bug let loose a string of obscenities.
Toni waited for Two-Bug to calm before asking the next question. “So if Silas doesn’t have Red, why offer to trade them for the Package?”
“A better question is – why does he need to make any offer?” said Kyle. “He had me trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey 90 seconds after we started talking, and he had you two under his thumb the whole time.”
“He doesn’t know who else is in the rig,” said Two-Bug. “He doesn’t think the three of us were capable of stopping Spectre. So he’s trying to find out precisely who he’s up against.”
“Exactly,” said Kyle. “His carefully orchestrated scheme has gone off the rails, and right now he’s trying to figure out how far.”
Two-Bug repositioned in his seat, looking thoughtful. “So he shows up himself, for a little trash talk. To show you who’s boss, and to demonstrate he’s a badass.”
“Then he sends you back in here to crap your pants, and spread some of that fear around.”
“Right,” said Kyle. “In the meantime he’s sitting in his white pimpmobile, wondering how much of his intel was wrong. Wondering who else might be in here with us.”
The three of them watched the vehicle. There was no sign of activity. The wind swirled snow across the pavement that separated them in cascading patterns.
“You think he’ll attack again?” Toni asked.
“Not right away,” said Kyle.
“What’s he waiting for?” said Two-Bug.
“Reinforcements, I think,” said Kyle. “Or maybe he’s expecting additional intel on who he’s up against. But it gives us time to try something. Does the name Alicia Brazil mean anything to either of you?”
Two-Bug shook his head, but Toni hesitated. “I know she’s dangerous,” she said. “Like, really dangerous.”
“What do you know?” said Kyle.
“Not much. She was in high security detention in Cheyenne. There was some chatter on the Comms team that she'd be high priority cargo.”
“She’s a PIP?”
“Yeah. As serious as they come. Four or five government agencies were after her hard. The Federal Pulse Authority calls her ‘Haste.’ Rumor among Comms is that she got that name because of how fast extraction teams want to get rid of her.”
“Who are these ‘Comms team’ you keep talking about?” Two-Bug asked. He looked at Kyle. “Do we have some well-informed Comms team I should know about?”
“Yeah,” said Kyle. “What the hell are you going on about?”
Toni sighed. “You two know what I do.”
“Wait, is this…. ohhhhhh,” said Kyle, as the light bulb went on. The FPA’s call sign for Toni was ‘Array,’ and she got that name for a reason. Among her many talents was her supernatural ability to infiltrate secure computer networks – including their own. On matters of mission intel, Array was always superbly informed.
“Do you mean to tell me you hacked government agencies to get information on Alicia?” Two-Bug said.
Toni nodded. “I like to be prepared for a Transport job, you know that. The government agencies share intel on high-profile PIPs on an ultra-high security Comms network. They especially love to chat about the really interesting ones. Like Haste.”
Kyle edged forward in his seat. “Okay. Tell us more about Haste. She part of November Legion?”
“No. Unaffiliated. She’s no friend of Silas Newport, far as I know.”
“Any idea what Haste can do?” said Kyle.
“No. No one knows. Everything on her is classified. SkyRank has never heard of Haste, I can tell you that.”
“Classified?” Kyle asked, surprised. “Why would you classify information on a PIP we’re supposed to transport?”
“No idea. Somebody high up doesn’t want anyone to know what this woman can do.”
“That sounds ominous,” said Two-Bug.
“Yeah, no shit. This whole op has been screwed, ever since we left Cheyenne.” Toni sighed and leaned back in her seat. “Just our luck we draw this shit detail.”
Kyle glanced at his watch, frustrated. “If Prodigy sticks to his ultimatum, we have less than fifteen minutes before he makes his next move. Which means we need to get a lot smarter in the next ten. I can’t think of a better way to do that than to meet with our cargo.”
“Can’t do that,” said Array. “She’s in a time-locked detention cell. There’s no way to unseal it until two hours after we‘re scheduled to arrive in Davenport. You can’t even speak to her.”
“Silas Newport has tasked one of the most dangerous PIP organizations in the world to stop us from delivering Alicia Brazil to the authorities in Davenport,” said Kyle. “He hasn’t finished the job because he’s scared, and it occurs to me that maybe Silas isn’t worried about us at all. Maybe the reason he’s so scared is because of Haste.”
Array and Two-Bug exchanged a glance. They obviously hadn’t considered that possibility.
“If that’s true,” continued Kyle, “then she may be the only thing keeping us alive. We have ten minutes to figure out how to turn that to our advantage, and I suggest we don’t spend it sitting on our ass.”
Array considered for several seconds, seconds that ticked by with agonizing slowness for Kyle. Finally she nodded, pulling a key out from around her neck.
“Two-Bug?” she asked.
Two-Bug nodded his reluctant assent. He reached into his jacket and produced a matching key. He handed it to Kyle.
Without a word Array rose and walked to the back of the cabin. Kyle followed.
There was a single high security door separating the cabin from the trailer. Kyle had never been through the door; he had to enter Two-Bug’s passcode before it would even let him slide his key into the panel. When he and Array had both used their keys to authenticate, the door unsealed with a soft hiss.
“I just violated security protocols,” said Array. She gave him a weak smile. “Guess I can kiss this job goodbye.”
“This job sucks anyway,” said Kyle. “Let’s just stay alive long enough to get you a decent severance package.”
“Amen to that,” she said. “What are you going to do?”
“See if I can find a way to talk to her. Find out what she knows that we don’t.”
Array leaned closer, lowering her voice. “She’s dangerous, Kyle.”
“Want me to come with you?”
“No,” said Kyle. “Stay with Two-Bug. Watch that vehicle – and keep your eyes peeled. I won’t be long.”
“Be careful,” said Toni.
Kyle squeezed through the narrow door and sealed it behind him.
Lighting was low inside the trailer. Kyle was standing at a security station; monitors displayed images from cameras all over the rig, including two that showed Prodigy’s big pimpmobile. On the leftmost screen Kyle saw Array drop into the driver’s seat. She reached over and squeezed Two-Bug’s shoulder, his good one, reassuringly.
There was no sign of life from the big vehicle, but Kyle knew that wouldn’t last. When its doors finally opened, things would start happening very quickly. Whatever he was going to do, he needed to do it fast.
The rest of the trailer was occupied by four high security cells. The inside cameras were off, so Kyle had no idea what each contained. He moved down the dark hallway.
The first cell on his left was empty. The one on his right was occupied.
The occupant was unconscious, face down on the floor. There was little doubt that this was Spectre. He was no longer as skinny and ghoulish as Two-Bug had described, but there was still an odd greenish cast to his skin. It looked like One-Bug had worked him over pretty good, but he’d live. Kyle pitied anyone on the receiving end of a beat down from One-Bug.
Kyle watched him draw slow breaths. Two-Bug had described Spectre as a relentless and sadistic opponent, but there was something off about that. It didn’t match Spectre’s public rep. Zone wasn’t known to publicly work with major villains, either. In fact, there was something about the make-up of the team they were up against that just didn’t sit right with him.
Was it possible Prodigy was controlling them all, enslaving every member of the November Legion with the same merciless zeal he’d used to drive Kyle to his knees in the snow? The thought that Prodigy was powerful enough to puppet the entire Legion, including some of the most powerful PIPs in North America, made his knees weak.
Kyle inspected the locks quickly. Array and Two-Bug hadn’t taken any chances; the thick glass door was sealed, and the magnetic locks were engaged. Spectre wouldn’t be getting out of there any time soon. Kyle kept moving.
In the next cell he found Alicia Brazil.
There was no doubt it was her; a folder with her name was standing in a thin glass box beside the door. The slender control panel showed a timer, counting down: three hours, thirty-eight minutes until the door could be unlocked.
Alicia stood just behind the glass door, waiting for him.
She was not quite what he expected. She was perhaps thirty years old, maybe thirty-five. Her clothes were nondescript. She had brown hair, and catseye glasses perched on the end of her small nose. She had a friendly, open face, and an attentive aspect, like she was expecting him. She looked like she was ready to take his coffee order.
She certainly didn’t look like one of the most dangerous PIPs on the planet, a Pulse-Impacted Person with powers so secretive they couldn’t be disclosed to her transport team. As Kyle came to a stop in front of her airtight cell, she smiled at him and held up a 3x5 index card. She flipped it over and pressed it against the glass with one finger.
There was a single word written in pen:
Kyle chuckled despite himself. At least they were off to a good start. “Well, you’re friendlier than everyone else I’ve met tonight,” he said.
She gave him a smile and tapped her left ear. She couldn’t hear him, he realized.
The detention cell was soundproof. He searched for an intercom switch. If they were going to communicate, they sure as hell didn’t have time to do it with note cards.
He brought up a menu on the console, found the COM button. When he punched it a message flashed on the glass display.
One-Way Communication Only
“Shit,” he muttered.
Haste glanced upwards, as if she’d heard something. Yes, she mouthed at him. Her smile broadened, and she spread her hands in a comic shrug.
“Sorry! Ah, sorry,” he said. “Can you hear me now?”
Haste nodded, still smiling. In her left hand she clutched a pen, and in her right he saw she had a full stack of index cards. It looked like she’d scribbled on dozens of them.
“Oh, thank God. I’m glad we didn’t have to spend five minutes figuring that out. Alicia, my name is Kyle Price. I’m part of the security detail transporting you to Davenport.”
With a showman’s flair, she pulled the next card from the deck and pressed it to the glass.
NICE TO MEET YOU, KYLE
How did she know my name? Kyle thought. A cold sensation began creeping up the base of his spine.
“Is that your thing?” he said, curious despite himself. “You’re a PIP who’s really ace with index cards?”
She lifted her finger and the NICE TO MEET YOU card slid unceremoniously to the floor. She positioned the next one from the deck in its place.
Kyle very much wanted to do so, but growing anxiety brought him up short. Fascinating as this was, he didn’t have time to play card games. He had a handful of minutes, at most, to learn why Prodigy might be terrified of Haste – and how to turn it to their advantage.
“Ms. Brazil, I apologize,” he said. “Let’s start over. I know you don’t know who I am. I’m not part of your regular liaison team. I don’t have clearance to be back here, and I sure as hell shouldn’t be talking to you. But we’re in a situation here, and it’s serious.”
Her expression hadn't changed. She continued to watch him with polite interest.
“There’s a man outside,” Kyle continued. “A very dangerous man. Possibly the most dangerous man I’ve ever crossed paths with. And what he wants is you. Have you ever met Silas Newport?”
Haste shook her head.
“Well, he knows you. And I’m afraid he’s already murdered a lot of people to get to you.”
The pain on Haste’s face looked genuine. She held up another card.
THAT’S AWFUL. I PROMISE YOU, THIS IS NOT MY DOING.
They were just starting to get somewhere, but Kyle found himself once again distracted by the cards. How was she doing that? What kind of PIP-granted ability would enable her to write down the answers before he’d even asked the questions?
“Ms. Brazil… look, we don’t have a lot of time. I know you were told you’d be delivered to Davenport, but there’s been a delay. We’re still two hours from the rendezvous. Whoever you were expecting to meet there, whoever you created these cards for, they’re not here. We’re in immediate danger – and I’m afraid that includes you, too.”
Alicia held his gaze through the glass. Very deliberately, she drew the top card on the deck and held it to the glass.
THESE CARDS ARE FOR YOU, KYLE
Kyle was brought up short once again. “Jesus. That’s a neat trick.”
She gave him a sad smile, and slowly shook her head.
“Not a trick?” Kyle said. “How are you doing it, then?”
YOU KNOW HOW
“No, I don’t. You’re a PIP, I know that. What are you, psychic, or some shit like that? You can see the future?”
YES. SOME SHIT LIKE THAT.
“Okay,” Kyle muttered, trying to process that. “And I thought today was pretty damn weird already.”
Kyle tried to work through the implications of a PIP who could actually see the future. That meant…
He had no idea what it meant. Whatever this revelation added to the calculus of their survival was beyond his ability to calculate.
It was easiest to just roll with it. “If that’s true, that’s great,” he said. “Because we could really use a little precognition right now. Alicia, I need some answers, and I need them in a hurry. Silas and his goons are going to attack very soon, and when they do, I’m afraid my friends are going to die. And very possibly, you too.”
There was no sign of anything resembling surprise or alarm in Haste’s expression – which made sense, he supposed. Probably not much surprised someone who could see the future. She seemed utterly composed. She gave an encouraging nod, inviting him to continue.
“I think… I think Silas is scared of something,” he said
Haste nodded again, smiling in agreement.
“Yes? I’m right, aren’t I? Silas is terrified, and that’s why he’s holding back.”
Haste delivered the next card with a congratulatory slap against the glass. Her smile had widened.
“Yes? Yes! Fantastic. I knew it. I need to know what he’s scared of. I need to know how I can stop him.”
Haste drew the next card. She held it, poised, watching him.
Kyle waited impatiently. When she made no move to reveal it he said, “What? I need to ask a question, is that how this works?”
She nodded. Yes.
“Okay, right. I get it. Okay. Uh…. How do I stop Prodigy?”
She flipped over the next card, pinning it to the glass.
“Wrong question?” Kyle said. “What do you mean, wrong question?”
Haste gave him an exasperated look. Seriously? she mouthed at him.
“Okay, okay! Sorry. Never mind. Let’s try this – What is Silas afraid of?”
“Come on!” Kyle exploded. “Can’t you work with me a little bit here?”
YOU ALREADY KNOW HOW TO STOP SILAS.
YOU NEED TO ASK THE BIG QUESTION.
“The big question –??” Kyle began.
He was interrupted by a noise from the front of the rig. It sounded like tires squealing. Kyle started, looking back towards the cabin.
“Hang on a sec,” he said.
He jogged back to the security station, checking the cameras. He found Prodigy’s vehicle; it was undisturbed. He found nothing unusual in any of the external cameras, though their coverage was limited, especially at long range. In the cabin, Toni and Two-Bug were leaning forward, looking apprehensive, staring through the windshield. Something was happening.
He returned to Haste. He leaned close, pressing his hands against the walls on either side of the door.
“Alicia, we’re running out of time. I don’t have time to play guess-the-question; I need to know whatever you can tell me. Right now. Can you help me?”
Through the glass, Haste nodded. She held up the next card.
“Thank you,” said Kyle. “Hit me. Give me what you got.”
Alicia flipped the card and held it to the glass. It read,
ONCE YOU KNOW WHAT PRODIGY WANTS
YOU’LL UNDERSTAND WHAT TERRIFIES HIM
“What Prodigy wants,” Kyle read aloud. That brought him up short. “I don’t know what he wants. He says what he wants is you. I assume having you trapped inside a military-grade box not even Array could hack into gets him halfway there. Am I right? He’s here for you?”
Alicia gave him a sad smile. He had it partially right, at least. But from the look on her face, it was clear he was missing something.
Kyle’s mind raced. Prodigy was a psychic dominator. If he could make Haste his slave, the way he’d done with Kyle, he’d…
He’d be able to see the future, Kyle realized. The most dangerous, megalomaniacal PIP on the planet would be able to see every danger coming his way. Every attempt to stop him, every opportunity, every betrayal.
He’d be unstoppable. With Alicia to guide him, tell him what was coming – and an army of PIPs like Whip and Zone at his disposal – Silas could do whatever he wanted. Outmaneuver enemies. Destabilize financial markets, destroy economies, topple governments... make himself invincible. He’d control one of the most powerful organizations on Earth. Perhaps the most powerful.
He met Haste’s eyes through the glass. If she could truly see the future, then she must have glimpsed the hell that awaited her if Prodigy succeeded. Surprisingly, the woman who returned his gaze seemed composed. At peace.
Perhaps she knew something significant that he didn’t. The prospect gave him slender hope.
“I’m still not putting the pieces together, Alicia. Why hasn’t Prodigy attacked already? What’s he scared of? Is it you? Why would he be terrified of you?”
YOU KNOW WHY
Kyle felt his frustration mounting again. He was so close – and now he was almost out of time. In a few minutes he was going to go up against the most dangerous PIP he’d ever faced, and the chances of his survival were dim and growing dimmer by the minute.
He had an ace in the hole here, he knew it. Alicia could guide him through the remorseless death trap that was the next hour of his life, if only she wanted to. She could save everyone, if he could figure her out.
Paradoxically, tantalizingly, it seemed to him that Haste wanted to help, wanted to safely navigate him through the next sixty minutes. But she was playing by her own strange set of rules, and he didn’t have the time to figure them out.
“I don’t know, Alicia. I have no idea why Prodigy is scared.”
YES YOU DO
Kyle’s hands assembled into fists, pressing against the walls. “No I don’t. I only know that Prodigy is desperate. He’s terrified. He’s terrified of…”
Kyle stopped abruptly. With dawning wonder, he realized Haste might be right. He did know.
“He’s terrified of what you’re going to tell him,” Kyle said.
The look on Haste’s face told him he was right before she turned over the next card.
“He’s terrified of the future. That’s what this has been about, from the very beginning.”
“Prodigy has to get his hands on you, because he needs to see the future. Not just wants to. Needs to. He knows something already, and it scares the shit out of him.”
“When? The immediate future? Today?” he asked.
“No – this is bigger than today. Bigger than us. Prodigy – he’s mixed up in something? Something awful?”
YES. MORE AWFUL THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE.
“Yeah,” said Kyle. He had no trouble believing that. “I just met Silas for the first time, and you don’t have to tell me he’s mixed up in some twisted shit. So Silas is up to his neck in something so awful that even he’s terrified. That’s it, isn’t it? He’s sacrificing everything he has, risking everything, because he’s desperate to get a glimpse of the future?”
YOU SHOULD BE, TOO
“Me?” Kyle said, startled. “What the hell do I have to do with Prodigy’s future?”
Haste hesitated before showing him the next card. He smiled with little humor. “I’m not going to like this one, am I?”
She shook her head. “Let’s just do it,” he said resolutely.
She flipped the card.
Something in the pit of Kyle’s stomach turned cold. “I don’t understand.”
YOU’RE AT THE HEART OF THIS
“Jesus Christ. Are you serious?”
I’M SO SORRY, KYLE.
“Of course. That’s what you’re trying to tell me, isn’t it? That I’m caught up in this now? Prodigy unleashed something. Some half-assed megalomaniac scheme that blew up in his face, and stopping him today is just the first phase of this shit storm?”
Haste nodded, but he knew the answer already. Once again, the look on her face confirmed everything.
“This is going to be bad, isn’t it?”
YOU NEED TO BE READY.
Alicia watched him through the glass. The sorrow and pity on her face were genuine.
“How big?” Kyle said.
END OF THE DAMN WORLD
Kyle rested his head against the cool glass of the door. He closed his eyes. “Well, that fits the rest of my day,” he said.
He leaned back after a moment. He straightened his uniform, and met Haste’s gaze.
“How long have I got?”
ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-FOUR DAYS
“Jesus, that’s awfully specific,” he muttered.
“It’s bad, isn’t it? Really bad.”
OH GOD. YES.
Haste squared her shoulders. She wiped her eyes and took a breath, composing herself.
ASK THE QUESTION
Kyle was ready. “What’s coming, Alicia? What’s coming in one hundred and ninety-four days, and how do I prepare for it?”
FINALLY. THE RIGHT QUESTION
Kyle managed a smile. “Glad I got it right in the end.”
THERE ARE THINGS YOU NEED TO DO IMMEDIATELY.
“I understand. What happens next?”
Seconds after Alicia pressed the one-word card against the glass, there was a bang from the direction of the cabin, and the sound of breaking glass. Something had hit the rig.
Kyle glanced towards the front. By the time he returned his gaze to Haste, she was already holding up a new card.
WE’RE OUT OF TIME
Kyle’s stomach was tied in knots. They had finally – finally – reached the heart of it. He was so close to discovering what this was all about. Maybe even a way for his team to survive.
But from the look on her face, he could tell their conversation was over. He glanced at her left hand. She still clutched about two dozen cards. The answers – everything he needed to know – was right there.
“Alicia – you can’t be serious! Can’t you tell me anything?”
Alicia met his gaze, her eyes brimming with sadness and pity. Kyle was no good at reading lips, but it wasn’t hard to make out the words she mouthed then.
“Alicia – give me something. Anything. Something that will help me save my friends.”
She seemed to reach a decision. She gathered her cards, reaching for an envelope. Then she pointed to the floor. He knelt down to look.
There was a slender panel on the side of the door. It looked like it was used for exchanging documents. She slid the envelope into the panel, then closed it. Once she had, his side unlocked. He flipped it open with two fingers and pulled out the envelope.
He stood, opening it. Two dozen index cards fell into his hands. Each held a handwritten message.
“You gave me your cards?” he said, surprised. “What am I supposed to do with them?”
Haste mimed turning over the top card. He did so.
YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO READ THEM.
Kyle’s mind whirled, and for a moment he was paralyzed. Was this how he could defeat Prodigy? Did the cards contain the instructions he needed to survive the next hour?
He shook off his paralysis and grabbed the next card. He turned it over eagerly.
YOU FORGOT TO ASK A QUESTION
He mouthed an expletive. Then he apologized to Haste, as she stood watching him.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I got it now. Alicia, what’s about to happen?”
He turned over the next card.
YOU’RE ABOUT TO KICK PRODIGY’S ASS,
THAT’S WHAT’S ABOUT TO HAPPEN
He stared at her. He tried to formulate his next question, and failed.
The door to the cabin flew open. Array stuck her head inside.
“Kyle! We got company!”
Kyle stuffed the envelope in his pocket and walked towards the cabin. Before he quit the trailer, he looked back one last time.
Haste had saved one final card. She held it to the glass door now.
Kyle closed the door, and heard the magnetic seals lock it down tight.