As the sun began its slow creep down the horizon, Liam remembered just how much driving relaxed him. There was something about hitting the open road at eighty miles an hour that soothed his nerves. The streets outside of cities were seldom used and thus Liam could hit whatever speed he so desired. Eighty felt comfortable to him. Had Emma been driving, they likely would be going well over a hundred. Having Emma drive did not relax him. Emma's driving inspired the severest of panic.
Sergei kept quiet. He looked out the window, simply staring at the passing vista. Liam decided to bring him around, “Hey, Sergei.”
“Yes?” he snapped out of his daze.
“What are your plans?”
“After,” Liam said. “You know, when this is all over. What are you gonna do?”
Sergei thought on it, “I'm not sure.”
“You gonna stay on the Holdsworth?”
“Not sure my mother would appreciate that,” Sergei said. “But I'm really not sure. I might like to stay on the Holdsworth. I've rather enjoyed my stay so far, as eventful as it's been.”
“I'm sure dad wouldn't mind having another hand.”
Emma joined the conversation, “You've got to earn a spot on our ship.”
“I'd say he's earned it. He saved both our asses.”
“True,” Emma said. “Don't you have work with Steelewood to do?”
“I do,” Sergei replied. “But it isn't like I can't retire.”
The sun had gone down far enough that Liam flipped on the headlights as he said, “Why don't you take a break? Join us for a month or two and see how it goes.”
“Not a bad plan.”
“You guys want a snack?” Emma pulled out a Ziploc baggie full of homemade granola bars. “Mom made these.”
“Certainly,” Sergei took one and bit into it.
“What the hell?” Liam said as he noticed the engine heat rising.
“What?” Emma was first to ask.
“The engine's getting hot,” Liam answered. “It shouldn't be do-” steam rose from the engine. “Ah, dammit!” The motor whined as the steam turned darker. Liam hit the brakes and said, “I don't know what's going on.”
“Can you repair it?” Sergei asked.
“I'll find out,” Liam replied as the Humvee stopped. He killed the engine, popped the hood, and went outside. Emma and Sergei got out of the vehicle with him. “Keep an eye out, might be lurkers,” Liam ordered, referring to zombies.
Emma was already on it. She grabbed her G36C and took a position to protect Liam.
Liam looked inside the engine block and couldn't see past the smoke. “Sergei! Look in the Humvee and get me the fire extinguisher!”
“Right,” he said as he dug around inside until he found it. “Got it!”
Liam took it, yanked the pin, and blasted the engine until the smoking ceased. He looked it over very carefully.
“What's wrong with it?” Emma asked.
Liam shook his head, “Coolant.”
“Coolant!” Liam sighed. “The coolant intake's busted and it's spewed all over the place! There's nothing keeping the engine from overheating, so it did. I'm gonna kill Bobby as soon as we get back.”
“So, what, we gotta hoof it?” asked Emma.
“I'm afraid so,” Liam slammed the hood. “Unless you've got some engine coolant lying around.”
“None in the trunk?”
“It isn't something you just keep around,” Liam told her. “The plant isn't far, maybe a twenty minute walk, less if we move quickly.”
“I don't like this,” Emma said. “It's getting dark.”
“If I could fix it, I would,” Liam opened up the trunk. “Grab anything you need and let's get going. I am so gonna kill Bobby.” The three of them put on their tactical vests. Emma strapped her G36C and took the suppressed SR-25 sniper rifle she used for scouting.
“We're just going to leave everything here?” Sergei asked.
“You wanna carry it?” Emma asked.
“We'll come back for it later,” Liam said. “Meanwhile, let's get this done.”
Goodwin and several armed soldiers led Lena, Hank, and Isadora through the lobby of Steelewood headquarters. They kept quiet, especially Isadora, who determined herself to silence. She wanted to draw as little attention as possible. If Goodwin or any of the soldiers noticed what she was doing, all might be lost....
Before being piled into Humvees, Lena, Hank, and Isadora should have been searched. Their sidearms and bags were taken, but they were not frisked. This was a major oversight, especially when dealing with someone such as she. For in Isadora's jacket pocket rest her smart phone. Certain no one was looking, she reached inside and silently pulled up the touchscreen. In just a few swipes, she opened an app disguised as a generic Tetris offshoot. In reality, this application had one purpose alone and had only a single button.
Without any hesitation, she pressed it and stowed her phone yet again.
As Sergei, Liam, and Emma jogged down the road towards the power plant, Sergei suddenly stopped. Liam noticed first and asked, “What's going on?”
“Just a moment,” Sergei reached into his jacket and pulled out a smart phone. He looked at the screen and shook his head, “We need to go back.”
“What, why?” Emma asked.
“Mother's activated her distress beacon.”
“Her distress beacon,” Sergei explained. “She'd only activate that if she were in danger.”
Liam pulled out his radio and hit the button, “This is away team checking in, please respond.”
“Away team checking in, please respond.”
Only a quiet static answered.
Liam said, “There's nothing we can do. We can't get back without a car. Let's get to the power plant, get it back on, and use one of theirs.”
“But she needs-”
“Sergei, we'll get back as soon as we can. I promise you.”