Guards surrounded the Griffinscape inside the landing dock. They wore black armor with a matte, leather finish that covered them from their necks down to their ankles. On their heads they wore black leather helmets with open faces. The helmets were trimmed along the face with silver, except for two that were trimmed in blue and one that was trimmed in a dark red. The two blue were stationed on opposite side of the ship. They appeared to be in command of the guards on their respective sides. The man with the dark red trimmed helmet, stood near the center of the landing dock only a few feet from where the Griffinscape’s passenger ramp would descend. He was in charge.
Kit watched her ship being surrounded from the conference room, adjacent to the helm and navigation center. Rex stood against the wall near the door enjoying Kit’s frustration and barely contained panic. Quinn and Tara arrived from the engineering room. Kit knew her problems were bigger than she thought when she noticed Quinn’s firm grip on Tara’s upper arm. He placed her in chair and stood between her and the exit.
“When they find out we don’t have the cargo, they’re going to kill us,” Kit said.
Tara stared at Kit. “I’m not sorry,” she said. “I became a doctor to save lives and by getting rid of all that Zumena, I’ve saved hundreds.”
“You deliberately dumped the cargo?” Kit asked.
Tara smiled. “I did.”
Kit closed her eyes to contain her anger and frustration. A moment later, she opened them and fixed on Tara. “Why?”
“Have you ever seen someone on Zumena?” Tara asked. “Sure it makes them faster and stronger for a while, but at the same time it erodes their minds, clouds their judgment until they’re nothing more than a slave to their need for more. And eventually, all that speed and strength takes it toll on the body and they die looking like they lived an entire lifetime, but in reality they barely even lived at all.”
“I know all too well what it does,” Kit said.
“Then why,” Tara asked, “would even think of delivering it here? No amount of money is worth what this stuff does to people’s lives.”
“Delivering it was the only thing that was going to keep these people from killing us,” Kit said. She spun the monitor showing the guards outside for Tara to see.
Tara looked up from the monitor into Kit’s eyes. “I’m not afraid to die.”
Quinn said, “Neither am I, but I would prefer to die for something that matters.”
Tara looked back at him. “Keeping Zumena from these people matters.”
“Of course it matters.” Quinn nodded. “The only problem is we’re not keeping it from them like this. Our one small shipment will mean nothing in the long run because someone else will just step in and deliver more to replace what we destroyed.”
Kit nodded. “If we’re going to keep Zumena from these people we’re going to have to make sure the market for it is closed down for good.”
Tara swiveled her head from Kit to Quinn and back again. “I don’t understand.”
Kit laughed without humor. “I’ve seen what LX’s narcotics can do firsthand. I was never going to just deliver the drugs and leave.”
“I gather you have a plan,” Quinn said, looking at Kit.
Kit nodded. “We’re going to have to surrender to them.”
Tara said, “They’ll kill us.”
“I’m going to strike a bargain with them,” Kit said.
Tara said, “The only thing they’ll bargain for is Zumena.”
“Or cash,” Quinn said.
Kit smiled at her companions. “I’m going to offer them both and when they accept, I’m going to bring the authorities down on them at our next meeting.”
Quinn said, “It could also be trouble for us.”
“Maybe,” Kit said, “but if it comes to that I’ll do my best to keep it contained to just me and our new friends outside.”
Tara nodded and looked around the conference room. “Where’s Rex?”
Kit looked to the wall behind Quinn where Rex had been standing. Rex was gone and only the wall remained. Quinn spun around and took a step closer to the door when it opened. Rex walked inside the conference room. He was accompanied by a small group of the guards from outside the ship, led by the man in the red trimmed helmet.
Rex pointed at Kit. “She’s the one,” he said. “She dumped the crates in the ocean.”
Tara looked up at Rex, anger boiling in her eyes. “You lying bastard,” she said.
The man in the red trimmed helmet stepped forward, his gaze locked on Kit. “You are under arrest,” he said. “If you surrender your weapons and come peacefully now, you won’t be harmed.”
Kit opened her jacket, exposing the hilts of her two pistols. One at a time she removed them from her belt and laid them on the table. “If you’ll give me a chance to explain, I’m sure you’ll agree this all just a big misunderstanding.”
The man in the red trimmed helmet asked, “Do you have the crates you agreed to deliver?”
Kit said, “Well no, but—
The man said, “Then there is no misunderstanding. You will come with us now.”