The transport’s stifling heat was calculated to further subdue prisoners while their captors watched, comfortable in climatized armor. One light panel was out, another flickered, unnoticed, as Laren, nearly crushed between two troopers, stared straight ahead to the vehicle’s other side, features frozen. Sweat dribbled down his temples and neck, suffocating heat stifling every breath. His mind, however, raced, undecided who he was angrier with, Troy or himself.
He should have known. How could he be so stupid? He’d always prided himself in his ability to anticipate events, the one trait that advanced him more than any other. Minor details escaped, but never the whole, his foresight astounding, especially on Mira III. Yet for all his digs at Dirck, here he was, victim of circumstances he should have avoided. What was the matter with him? He knew better, a thousand times over.
The fact they came in the middle of their shifted sleepzone in itself was startling revelation. They’d been under surveillance, probably through the ballome’s internal control systems. When they’d changed he’d smugly thought another of its benefits would be to avoid just such an encounter. How could he be so naïve?
He caught his jaw tensing and ordered it to relax. Behavior now could affect treatment later. All they’d need would be the smallest excuse. He’d messed up enough. Had he ever! He turned his head enough to fix his eyes on the rear hatch window toward home, staring past dust suspended in a dagger of zetalight as self-deprecation resumed.
Was he so accustomed to predictability that a crisis destroyed all reason? Was he that spoiled by Mira III’s comforts, particularly lack of worry? Had he forgotten how to think? It was bad enough when it took so long to wise up about Troy on the Cosmos II. He’d become so single-minded about bringing Creena home he’d slid deeper and deeper into the trap. Then the urgency of securing the ballome against High Opps did it again. Dirck probably thought he was a complete idiot. And with good reason. At least his son had come a long way. Good thing. Now he had it all to deal with alone while his foolish father figured out how he’d get out of this one. At least he’d have the c-com, if he thought to use it.
Sharra’s protests rang from memory, racking his cramped and sweaty frame. Even as they’d hauled him out the door he couldn’t look her in the eye, apology aching in his heart. Yet he’d seen, albeit felt, her every move, every expression, every emotion.
Sweet Benefics, what have I done?
He blasted himself again, incredulous still that his ability to function in contingency mode was so marginal. He’d juggled crises before, done it well. Never had he messed up so much, never had the consequences been so grim. Was his objectivity and training totally negated simply because his family was involved? He chided his jaw once more to relax, even as heat and emotion stung his eyes.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish