“Haven’t found the last of them, Senator?” Gn’iol asked.
“Please,” she pleaded. “I’m very close. I have a contact who…”
Gn’iol grabbed the hand held and slammed it into the ground. “You’re out of time, too bad.”
Without giving her a chance to protest further, he shot her. His men carried her body outside and tossed it.
“That was unnecessary,” Paul said. “And cruel.”
“I know,” Angela agreed. She put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry. We’ll be ready to go soon. Right, Meiling?”
“I’m getting close,” Meiling confirmed. “Soon we’ll have two ready.”
“Still doesn’t leave us a lot of room,” Farah said.
“We need a way to get them to group up,” Lucas said. “When they’re clustered together we can hit them all.”
“The question is how do we manage?” Angela asked. “I don’t think this group will crowd together for karaoke.”
“You could kiss Meiling,” Lucas said. “They might find that hot.”
“You could also kiss Paul,” Meiling said. “That might be more their thing.”
“Yeah, but he’s got a super jealous boyfriend, right?” Lucas asked. “I don’t wanna die.”
“If you two could stop joking,” Farah said “I have a suggestion that might work.”
“Go ahead,” Paul said.
“I could pick a fight with Gn’iol,” Farah said. “His people might leave a few on the doors, but they’ll gather to watch that I’m pretty sure.”
“It’ll be a dangerous position,” Paul said. “Gn’iol probably won’t be close enough to the others to get hit and Pacificans are very strong.”
“I know,” Farah said. “But I’m also the person here who stands the best chance. And you can always patch me up.”
The group turned. Gn’iol was approaching quickly. He made a beeline right for Paul. Meiling slid the unfinished stunning device into her pocket.
“Yes?” Paul asked.
“Quick question, would you have had the guts to pull that trigger?” Gn’iol asked.
“Excuse me?” Paul didn’t hide his shock at the question.
“Oh, that bother you?” Gn’iol asked. He poked Paul’s chest. “You seemed so certain about having strength earlier I just figured you’d have the guts for that much.”
“I don’t see any strength in murdering someone in cold blood,” Paul said.
“That’s right,” Gn’iol said. “You said it was helping those who need it, didn’t you? How about we do a little experiment. Find out who has the right definition of strength.” His crew were starting to gather around the two, leering.
“This looks bad,” Angela whispered. “Very bad.”
Farah handed Wolfgang to Lucas. “Be careful with him,” she whispered, noting that the little dog was already growling at the big Pacifican and looked like he might try to lunge at him. “Excuse me…” she tried to intercede.
“Shut up!” Gn’iol shouted. “Any of you interrupt, I shoot you all right now.” He turned back to Paul. “Well, Doc?”
“And what is your experiment?” Paul asked, knowing he had no choice.
“Simple,” Gn’iol said. “You and I punch it out. No weapons. No help from others. I’ll fight for the sheer pleasure of it. You’ll fight for the lives of your little friends here.” He gestured at Meiling, Angela, Lucas & Farah.
“Do I have a choice?” Paul asked.
“Of course you do,” Gn’iol said. “You can refuse and I can shoot all of them without harming you.”
Paul sighed. “Very well. Give me twenty minutes to prepare.”
“Doctor, you have five,” Gn’iol said. “My people can spread the word, get some comfortable seats to watch me beat you to death.” He walked away, laughing.
“It looks like the plan’s just been altered,” Paul said. He looked at Meiling. “How long until it’s ready?”
“At least ten minutes of work,” Meiling answered. She’d already resumed her tinkering. “But we’ll also have to get into position to use them. It could be fifteen to twenty minutes. Can you last that long in a fight against him?”
“I’ll have to,” Paul said. “Besides, I have a distinct feeling he’ll toy with me first.”
“Let me go!” Leon shouted.
“I won’t,” Alexandria said, she had him in a nelson hold. “You go off like a crazy person, the plan is ruined.”
“He’s going to beat my Paul!” Leon cried out.
Lucy calmly walked over, reached up and slapped Leon across the face. “If you go in there now, he’s going to kill your Paul!” Lucy said, her yellow eyes opened. “Calm down and think rationally. You think Alexandria doesn’t want to go down there with her Meling in danger? You think Grace doesn’t want to go down there with Farah in danger? What about Femi and her desire to save her wife? Everyone on this ship wants to go down there and start the rescue operation. But we have to bide our time and wait for the opportunity or we’ll fall into the same pitfall as the Alliance.”
Leon settled down. “Sorry,” he muttered.
“We’ll have to do a dual strike,” Kat said. “Most of the guards inside the auditorium should get stunned, but we’ll still need to mop them up. The guards outside are the big threat.”
“I’ll lead the strike on the outside,” Lucy said. “If we focus on guarding the auditorium’s entrance, we should be able to keep them away so we can rescue our people. I’ll take Kat and Jack with me.”
“Then I’ll lead the strike force going in to mop up the stunned auditorium soldiers,” Femi said. “Alex, Leon, Yuri, You’re with me.”
“We’ll touch down and get into a holding position outside now,” Ophelia said. “When you hear them say they’ve stunned the guards inside, make a break for the auditorium. Remember, take down the guards before the stun effect wears off.”
She looked out the viewing port. She didn’t say it, but she questioned whether or not Paul could really last long enough. If he failed, they might have to move prematurely and at great risk to all of them.