that the EMAs were vital to the protection of Bios-2, not so much as a first line of defense, but as a deterrent. Each was a truly awesome weapon that fired the equivalent of a lightning bolt. Anything it touched was instantly burned to a crispy marshmallow. But the damned thing had worse aim than a snub-nose .38. That’s why they installed a Taser-like dart that shot out of a barrel mounted below the EMA. The dart would hit the target, and then the EMA almost simultaneously blasted its deadly bolt of electricity, now with complete accuracy, up to four hundred meters. They only had one dart per gun; after that, the EMA’s electrical bolts would travel to the nearest ground in the general vicinity of the intended target. But the Outsiders didn’t know this. They also didn’t know that when B2’s generator went down, taking their Electric Protection Field, or EPF, with it, they only had two or three shots from all five of their EMAs. All the Outsiders knew was when one of those things was fired, its intended target was about to experience hell on earth.
“Good. What else do you have for me?”
“Well, speaking of Doctor Reid…”
“Dr. Carrington Reid?”
“No, his wife. Melanie Sinclaire-Reid, the NASA astronaut.” Lunder didn’t expect his boss to remember all the details, although it was more important that he know the pertinent particulars. “If you’ll recall, we separated the Reids and put her under guard for stirring the pot with the other scientists, trying to convince them to leave. Anyway, her guard”—he opened his notebook—“a Simon Washington…”
“I know the kid, big and stupid, but loyal for comic books.”
“Yes, sir, that’s him. Well, he caught them meeting up in the ladies’ room again.”
“For what purpose?” Westerling asked and immediately realized, making a smirky O with his mouth and nodding affirmatively. “So, what’s the problem with this? They’re married, they miss each other.”
“Well, it’s against the rules.”
“They do good work, don’t they?”
“Yes, but if everyone decided to break the rules they didn’t like, we’d have chaos.”
“Fine, throw her in the brig for a few hours, and then put them back together. They should not be separated. Keep them under watch, but let them have their fun together. Of course, she can no longer stir the pot, or she’ll face longer jail time—or worse. Make it known to her.”
“What about Mr. Reid?”
“Leave him to me.”
There was a knock on the door and Deanna—obviously tipsy again—stepped inside without asking for permission; she knew he hated this. Leanne broke free from her mother’s hand, rushed the span of his office and jumped in his lap.
“Ooof. Geeze, you’re getting big, my baby-girl,” bellowed Westerling in his jolly Santa-like voice.
“Crapaw, I’m six now. I’m a big girl.”
“Daddy, I’m sorry, but Leanne was dying to show off her new dress to her grandfather.”
“We done here?” he asked Lunder while bouncing his granddaughter on his lap. She yipped with glee after every jolt.
“Yes sir. Everything else can wait until tom—”
“Thanks, Lunder.” Westerling cut him off, not even looking back at him. His attention was on the only two people who mattered in his life.
Leanne hopped off his lap and spun around so her dress flared out in a perfect cone.
“Wow, that’s beautiful.” Westerling clapped merrily.
Lunder closed the door behind him, miffed that two girls, even family, came before concluding their business.
A quick look around showed no one was paying much attention to her. Melanie drew one knee to her chest. About a dozen or so scientists were sitting with her at the picnic-style table, one of several in the dining room. She pretended to adjust the sock she wore over her shoe, leaned closer to the man nearest to her and whispered, “It’s time we break out of this place, but we have to be smart about it.