Kit took a deep breath and considered her options. She wasn’t willing to allow Tara to stay behind. “We can help each other,” she said. “Whatever your life was yesterday, it’s gone now and neither you nor I can change that, but I can offer you a tomorrow. Maybe, like me, you want to expose LX for what they are to the galaxy or maybe you want to forget they ever existed. Either way, coming with me now gives you the chance to make the choice you want to make.”
“I have a life here,” Tara said. She looked out into the dark streets searching for something familiar.
Kit softened her voice and looked at the ground. “You had a life.” She raised her eyes to meet Tara’s. “If you have someone here who will help you, who can still see you for the person you are and not the criminal that was locked in the pillory, then you have a reason to stay, but if not, give me a chance to help you.”
Tara suppressed welling tears and locked her jaw. “What’s in it for you?”
“Redemption,” Kit said. “Now, I have to go. Come or stay? The choice is now.”
Kit walked out the alcove and paused in the street. She held her breath hoping to hear the sound of footsteps following her. When she thought it was certain Tara wasn’t coming a hand touched her shoulder. Kit spun to see Tara standing behind her.
Tara said, “Alright, I’m coming.”
Kit smiled. They rushed down the street toward the escalators that would take them to the Entertainment sector’s sub-level. There were loading docks, meant for supply deliveries, but in the evening hours as it was, the docks would be mostly empty. Kit had arranged to meet Quinn and hopefully her ship there, so long as nothing had gone wrong. Tara kept pace with Kit despite her physical exhaustion for having stood in one place for a full day and having not slept in nearly two days.
Just as they reached the escalator an energy bolt exploded on the handrail. Kit and Tara tumbled on the stairs nearly falling halfway toward the bottom before catching themselves on the moving steps. Kit pulled her pistol out and twisted her body in order to view the escalator’s top landing. Even in the dim lighting Kit recognized the face at the top; Red headed bimbo with a pistol. Kit aimed and fired.
The red head dove to the side, firing a shot of her own in Kit’s direction. The energy bolt missing, fizzling instead on the stair just above her head. Kit jumped to her feet, pulling Tara with her. They ran the short distance remaining to the lower level and turned the corner on the escalator just in time to miss another energy bolt exploding on the landing.
“I think you forgot to tell me something,” Tara shouted as they ran.
Kit weaved around a support pillar just as another shot hit the pillar. She glanced at Tara, relieved to see her keeping up and relatively unharmed. “She thinks I have something of hers.”
“Do you?” Tara asked, as they slipped around a corner that kept them out of line of sight from the red head.
“No,” Kit said, “not that she cares and it probably doesn’t help that I made her look bad in front of her subordinates earlier today.”
They kept running weaving around as many corners as they could and still stay on track for the loading docks. Behind them, the red head kept coming as well, firing bolts of energy anytime she even caught a glimpse of them. Kit didn’t spend much time thinking about it but, she realized the lack of authorities swarming the area meant whoever the red head’s boss was, he had a lot of power and influence.
The roar of ship thrusters refocused Kit’s attention. A glimpse beyond the end of the sub-platform revealed the Griffinscape moving into position for their rendezvous. Kit grabbed Tara’s arm and pulled her in the direction of the correct dock. They slipped through the arched doorway as another bolt from the red head’s pistol exploded nearby.
Quinn stood at the top of the ramp watching the sparks fly behind Kit and Tara. He pumped his rifle and aimed at the doorway. As Kit and Tara reached the ramp, he fired a blast over their heads into the doorway, catching the red head as she turned the corner. The wave of force hurled her back through the doorway and into the steel wall eight feet behind it.
The three rode the elevator to the Griffinscape’s control deck, making quick introductions. On the fourth floor, Kit exited the elevator first, leaving Quinn to tend to Tara. She rushed to the helm controls and pushed Rex out of the way. His eyes said he was annoyed, but he took the co-pilot’s seat without a word. Kit piloted the ship out of the loading dock and swerved into a quick ascent as soon the ship cleared the traffic zones of the city.
Upon breaking orbit, Kit turned to Rex. “Where are we headed?”
“Rasa,” he said.
Kit raised an eyebrow. “Never heard of it.”
Rex nodded. “It’s only been colonized about a hundred years. They got their first gateway just three years ago.”
Kit relaxed in the pilot’s chair. A long journey wasn’t what she had in mind, but it was better than sticking around. “So it’s remote,” she said.
“Yeah, but not too bad. Take the gate to the Barfora system and we can get to Rasa from there,” Rex said.
Kit nodded and set course for the appropriate gate orbiting the planet. There weren’t any customs checkpoints for going to Barfora and that would make things simple. Of course, it also made her wonder what exactly they were transporting. She should have asked before, but it hadn’t seemed important at the time. The Griffinscape had privateer registry and Rex called himself a privateer. His personality fit a different profile though and all the facts were pointing toward one likely conclusion; Rex Baxter was a smuggler and Kit was about to become one.