"We found her, Madison. We found her."
The words echo in her head. She strides through the corridor, barely registers the people—other pilots, support staff, ranking officers and enlisted personnel—who flatten themselves against the bulkheads to get out of her way. Jerome’s voice is a meaningless buzz mixing with the white noise filling up her mind. Only his first words matter.
“We found her.”
He’s still speaking. No coordinates, but Genesis can download those from the bunker mainframe. His words fade in and out, like tuning an old-world radio. Needless, pointless sounds. “Shouldn’t have told you… worried about you… not like you… Madison, just listen…” Layers on layers of static in her head. White noise. Red.
“Captain Donohue!” The Bunker Commander’s authoritative tone barely penetrates the static and haze. She keeps walking. “Captain,” he snaps again. “If you run off and murder Kara because you're having a temper tantrum, how is it any better than what she did? It's just another breach of discipline. Control yourself, or you're no different than her!” Coming from Jerome, the words cut.
Stops, spins, her lips an inch from his skin. Close enough to kiss. Snarls, “That. Is not. Kara.”
He stumbles back a step. His face is ashen. He thinks she’s crazy. He may be right.
She’s walking again. There’s a hand on her arm, restraining. Jerome hasn’t given up. She moves it away. More hands, black leather gloves: Jerome’s called up the MP’s. She moves them, too. Screaming. White noise.
The hatch is in front of her. Tunnel vision, the rest of the corridor fading to red. She turns the knob; nothing. Security lockdown. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. No more hatch.
Across the hangar, Genesis rising before her. Comforting, cold titanium alloy. Genesis makes sense; it would never give and then take away, never earn her trust and then use it against her. Like Jerome. She moves his hands off her again. Like Her.
The lifts are locked down like the doors. Not a problem. Climbing—she sees her hands through the red haze as she looks up. Small. Delicate. Deceptive.
Jerome has stopped chasing her. He won’t touch Genesis—it’s not his. Taboo. Heresy. Bunker Commander ensures and exemplifies religious devotion to military order. Taboos are laws. Defiance is heresy.
Red haze. Small, delicate hands. Covered in red. Blood.
Shouting. Meaningless. Genesis’ access hatch. Inside, quiet. Calm. White noise. Red haze. Light. The hangar doors open. Smooth power-up sequence cuts through the static. She sees Jerome on the ground. His hand is on Delilah’s shoulder; the girl is trying not to cry. She sees the struggle on the child’s face, remembers the feeling. Unbidden, memories come. The word she never thinks about. Abandoned.
Her commander. Their daughter.
She turns away. Turns past the empty dock where Revelations once stood. Turns toward the light, the open doors. She can’t see Delilah anymore. Nothing to see. Delilah is trained. Has the best genetics. Top ranked pilot, Bunker Commander. She’ll survive.
“We found Her.”
Uplink to bunker mainframe. Last step. Download coordinates. Deep breath. Static peaks.