Authors: Kaitlyn O'Connor
Tags: #Erotica, #Fiction
© copyright by Kaitlyn O’Connor, Oct 2009
Cover Art by Eliza Black, Oct 2009
New Concepts Publishing Lake Park, GA 31636
www.newconceptspublishing.com This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author’s imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
The concussion of the bomb blast alone was powerful enough that it created a spider web of cracks in the thick glass and compromised the seals around the office window where Simon stood. Thin streams of water shot through the weakened seals, forming miniature fountains that swiftly created pools on the carpet beneath his feet. One moment he was scanning the tourists and potential colonists as they emerged from the transport in front of the desalinization plant. The next, he was staring at havoc. The certain knowledge that he was about to become a part of it hit him like an aftershock of the blast itself.
Spinning on his heels, he lunged toward the door. His right foot hadn’t even settled firmly on the floor when the window exploded, compromising the integrity of the entire structure. He had time to feel a split second of relief when he saw the door of his office seal automatically and then he was swept off his feet by the cannon of water blasting through the hole when the force of the explosion turned the two foot square window he’d been standing in front of into a missile. Within a handful of heartbeats, water had filled the room and transformed it into a deadly mixer, turning everything that hadn’t been bolted to the walls or floor, including the window itself, into powerful projectiles that slammed into him or narrowly missed him.
Briefly disoriented as the water sent him tumbling, panic flickered through him, but as he rolled, he caught sight of the now empty socket where the window had been.
Gritting his teeth, he fought to reach it, struggling against the artificial current created by the churning of the trapped water as it slammed into the walls and was deflected back upon itself. It was luck more than determination that ejected him from the building. A back surge caught him, slamming him against the edge of the window. He felt the impact, but shock prevented his brain from registering pain or even numbness from the blow.
His luck held. By the time he was swept out, the wave of projectiles created by the explosion had already passed over the Watch Center.
There were hundreds that hadn’t been as lucky. The debris still spreading outward from the blast zone included bodies and parts of bodies. Clouds and streams of blood mixed with the water, smoke, and ash.
Galvanized by that discovery, Simon bellowed instinctively for the watch. The gargle of sound that emerged briefly confused him until it dawned on him that he’d been in his office. He wasn’t wearing his communicator.
Whipping around to look for some means of directing the emergency, he spied one of the watchmen gaping at the scene in shock and shot toward him. Grasping the young recruit by both shoulders, he shook him furiously and ripped his communicator from his head, pointing toward a bleeding victim drifting near them.
“Code Red! Code Red! Watchmen to your stations! Emergency personnel—get the injured into a shelter! Immediately! Priority on the air-breathers!”
Even as he made the announcement, he headed toward ground zero to assess the damage and see if there was anyone alive that could be pulled from the rubble. Before he’d reached it his men had launched into emergency mode. The heart of the city, as still as death in the aftermath of the explosion, began to churn with rushing watchmen and emergency workers.
The blood in the water was going to draw predators. That was going to be the biggest danger for anyone uninjured, but the colonists knew the drill by now. At the first sign of a terrorist attack, they rushed to the nearest available shelter if they were able to move.
The fucking bastards!
Wondering if it was the work of the radical Green Peace movement, the Humans for Humanity, or some other crazed fanatic bent on ‘saving the oceans’ or ‘destroying mutants’, he surveyed the desalinization plant with disgust and budding anger. The plant, in the heart of the territorial capital, New Atlanta, supplied about a third of the fresh water for the entire colony of New Atlantis. If it was completely destroyed ….
His anger blossomed into rage. He tamped it with an effort. First things first, they had to get the injured to safety so that they could be treated and gather up the dead before the sea predators were drawn by the blood into a feeding frenzy.
He worked alongside the emergency personnel to sort and move the injured until he saw that they’d managed to get all of the injured within view to safety. Leaving the emergency workers to sift through the rubble for the possibility of other survivors, he headed out to check the city’s perimeter. As he’d feared, sharks had begun to gather. He paused to watch as three of his men worked to bring down a great white and, when the huge predator became the focus of the feeding frenzy, returned to the plant.
The workers were still collecting the dead and searching for survivors, but he focused on the men clearing the rubble from the plant. It took them four hours to clear away enough of the debris to enter the building and begin assessing the damage. By that time he’d begun to get reports on the number of casualties and the damage to the other structures nearest the blast zone and had fielded a half a dozen calls from the mayor and the territorial governor.
Seething with frustrated anger, he finally left the disaster area and headed to the capitol building to report.
He discovered when he emerged from the access pool inside the building that the atrium was full of victims of the recent attack and bustling medics. Instead of heading directly to the dryer, he stopped to survey the scene and finally made his way along the aisles that had been formed, unable to resist the urge to search the faces for people he knew. He didn’t see any but since most of the people he looked at appeared to be land dwellers, he didn’t take much comfort in it.
He paused beside the physician in charge. “This is the tourists?”
The doctor stared at him blankly for a moment, his mind clearly elsewhere. “All of the survivors we managed to find,” he said finally. “The blast demolished their water gear. We needed to get them inside quickly.”
Simon nodded grimly. “Any idea how many were killed yet?”
Anger flickered across the doctor’s face. “No numbers. Most of these people aren’t going to make it, though.”
Simon ground his teeth, but he left the medics to their work and headed to the dryer. He barely paused. He was already almost dry. By the time he reached the council chambers, he would be presentable enough.
There were robes in a locker near the dryer. Pulling one out, he shrugged into it and headed for the stairs. The council was in the middle of a heated debate when he was announced. The room fell silent at his entrance. A dozen pairs of eyes turned to nail him.
“I hope you have some news for us, High Guardian!” the governor barked.
“How the hell did they get past our security!” the mayor demanded at almost the same moment.
Simon glanced from one man to the other and finally strode to the seat reserved for him and settled. “Would you like a preliminary report? Or would you prefer to pelt me with questions I don’t have answers for?” he said sardonically.
Both the mayor and the governor looked taken aback and then deeply offended, though why they should was a mystery to him. They ought to be accustomed to his forthrightness by now. They’d complained about it often enough! He wasn’t a damned politician, though, and he saw no real benefit to beating around the bush.
“It’s been hours since the attack!” Mayor Grissom snapped. “You don’t have anything?”
Simon narrowed his eyes at him. “I’ve got a lot of bodies and a lot of people in need of medical attention,” he growled.
Grissom paled. Governor Harding spoke before he could think of another reproach. “Give us your preliminary report—has the saboteur been caught? And what is the likelihood of another bomb going off in our midst?”
Simon settled back in his chair and scrubbed a hand over his face tiredly. “Most of the watchmen were detailed to protect the citizens. As much blood as there was, it was like ringing the fucking dinner bell. I had to get them out there to prevent shark attack and the like.
“Preliminary ‘guess’ on getting the plant back up to full production is a month.
Until then, it’ll be working at about half, which means the water will have to be rationed for a while unless you can come up with an alternative plan … or the feds lend a hand and we all know how likely that is.
“We were able to determine that no one left the city either directly after the bomb went off or in the hours since. It’s possible the bomb was remote detonated—we haven’t found all the pieces yet and can’t rule that out. We found … hamburger inside, though, so I’m leaning toward a suicide bomber. It might have been a tourist, but that’s doubtful since they hadn’t actually made it inside, that we know of, before the explosion and there shouldn’t have been any workers in that area at that time—although we haven’t yet ascertained the identities of the dead and we can’t rule that out. The shift supervisor is trying to track down the identities of everyone who was inside the plant when it blew up.
There were twenty men on the clock at the time of the explosion.”
“My god! The tourists!” Grissom exclaimed as if it had just occurred to him.
“The publicity! This is a disaster!”
Simon narrowed his eyes at him. “It was pretty much a fucking disaster for the colonists caught in the blast, also.”
Grissom glared at him. “It’s a disaster for the colony all the way around!” he snapped. “I’m not downplaying local repercussions, damn it! Don’t take that attitude with me! I’m the mayor! I have to worry about the city and the citizens, but that god damned bus was full of potential colonists! There’ll be shockwaves all the way to Washington and god only knows what the repercussions will be! Everyone in the states already considers the territory wild and lawless! This will only make us look worse!”
Simon slammed his balled fist on the table top, half rising from his seat. “That god damned bastard that just killed several hundred people isn’t from the god damned colony! You can bet your ass he’s a god damned
air breather from the ‘civilized’
“Do you know that for certain?” the governor demanded sharply.
Simon sucked in a breath to blast him with his temper and then folded his lips together again. “Not for certain.”
“Then find proof, damn it! And find it fast! We’re going to have to have a defense when Washington comes down on us about this! Grissom’s right … as badly as I hate to agree with him on this. This entire episode is going to land in our laps if we can’t hand them proof that it was a terrorist!” He studied Simon for a long moment. “Do whatever you think is necessary, Simon, to protect the Atlantean Territory. We have to put a stop to these attacks!”
Surprise flickered through Simon, but he didn’t think he’d misunderstood.
Frankly, he didn’t give a damn if he had. He’d had enough himself. Nodding, he pushed his chair back and got up. “I’ll see to it,” he said grimly. He paused at the door.
“I’ll have the full reports on the damage to you by late tomorrow.”
He was more thoughtful than angry as he left. The anger was still there, roiling inside of him. Much of it had found purpose, though, a possible outlet that had cooled the nearly overwhelming urge to strike out at something, anything to vent his frustration.
Sucking in a deep, cleansing breath when he emerged from the government building, he looked around at the city. He was third generation aqua-former, or mutant abomination as the air-breathers referred to them, he thought with a flicker of anger.
It was hard to say what bothered him most—his own sense of failure or the not so subtle implications of the mayor and governor that he’d failed.
A lot of good men had died today because he’d failed to prevent a terrorist from invading the city and a lot of innocent tourists looking for the possibility of a new and better life.
He was going to have somebody’s ass when he found out who’d fallen down on the job and let the bastard through, he thought grimly!
He supposed there was some truth to the charge that the territory was a wild place, but then again ninety percent of the colonists were men. They lived on the edge, knowing every breath they took living in the territories could be their last. They worked hard. They played hard and there was always some bastard out there who preferred claim jumping and robbery to actual work.
He was more inclined to view it as rowdy rather than lawless, however, although he would grant them that much. He took it damned personally, though, that the entire territory was lumped together as if there was no difference, as if it was all the same. He was High Guardian of New Atlanta, the capital city … as his father had been before him and his grandfather before that. Considering how thinly spread they were, he and his watchmen did a hell of a job at keeping the peace. Their crime rate was certainly no higher than the major cities in the states—not as high from what he’d been able to determine.
The same could be said for all of the other established cities within the territory if not the smaller burgs that had popped up over the years across the vast continental shelf claimed by the U.S. Outside those areas … well, it was a territory and the last frontier …
on Earth. They attracted all kinds and that included plenty of people that had worn out their welcome among the air-breathers. It was the militia’s job to patrol the areas beyond the cities and they were spread thinner than the watchmen.