Tuesday Night; Ray’s Storage
“What did they just take?” That was Massacre complaining about something. I didn’t have time to keep checking in on them. They were supers and these two guys were just guys – special ops guys, but still. I had a freaking nuke to disarm!
I heard something hit the wall behind me. To my surprise, Pabon had just thrown Massacre into it. There was something strange about the ranger, too. Whatever they took, it seemed to level the playing field.
Again, not my concern. I had wires to start snipping. I couldn’t look at the wires I just spliced from the timer to the core. I opened up the panel just under the harness where I installed the charger and found what I needed. There were so many wires going into the core, I didn’t even know where to start.
Great, gun fire was added to the mix behind me. As if these idiots couldn’t make a deadly situation even worse. With that threat, I probably didn’t even have the twelve minutes that were on the timer. Or actually the nine minutes and fifty-three seconds it was flashing. C’mon Jericho, think! I looked over the wires again – it was time to make some decisions.
I immediately discounted the three red wires going to different circuits. Red was always bad. I was left with green, blue, black, and white. There were two white wires, so I reached in with my knife and cut them. There wasn’t a giant, life ending explosion, so I figured we were good. That just left the green, blue and black.
Pain hit me in the shoulder. I dropped my knife and hit the cement floor. Pabon had shot me. “I can’t let you do that, Jericho.”
The bullet hit bone or else it would’ve gone clean through and mushroom clouded this city. That did little for me though, as I was in excruciating pain. Pabon walked over to me and pointed the gun at my head. “Nothing personal; I just can’t let you ruin our plans.”
And so this is how The Negative Man was going to die, by trying to do the right thing. I was too close to the core to use my power, as that would’ve been a death sentence for us all. Either way, I was SOL. Until A clawed hand grabbed Pabon by the neck and snapped it. The ranger went down in a heap.
DL was standing over me. “Jericho, are you okay?”
“Besides a bullet in my shoulder, I’m doing fantastic!” Yeah, my sarcastic charm never goes away. Still, I was grateful… to my enemy of all people. “Thanks, I appreciate still being alive.”
Esposito was laying a beating on Massacre. “I can handle him if you can finish disarming that.”
I grabbed my knife with my working left hand and pulled myself up. “Go, I got this.” I sounded a bit more confident than I actually was.
We were under five minutes. Seeing as how there were more black wires than any other color, I went with them. I cut all five black wires, and as I cut the last one, the timer switched from five minutes to a critical one minute countdown.
Over the punching, “Jericho, I hope that’s a good thing!”
Blue or green, there were two wires for each one. It was a simple guess at this point, so I grabbed green as it was my favorite color and cut the remaining two wires. With twenty-eight seconds to spare, the timer froze in place.
At the same time behind me, DL smashed Esposito in the face with a huge overhand punch. Wonderton looked pretty damn beat up, too. I missed one hell of a fight.
General Whisant placed Esposito under arrest personally. It was a shame we weren’t there to see it, but we were back at Wonder-Tech Tower as DL was digging the bullet out of my shoulder. I’ll go ahead and admit it, I screamed. Never being shot before, it wasn’t something I’d ever want to do again.
“Jericho,” he sounded solemn. “From here on out, this control room is your home. I put you in harm’s way and for that I’m sorry.”
He was referring to the gunshot, but we were in so much more danger if I hadn’t been there to disarm that bomb. “You know what? I could use a quiet spell. Being the eyes behind the scene is just fine by me.”
“I need to go check on PJ, but in the meantime, take the rest of the week off. You’ve earned it.”
He was walking away, yet I had one last question. “You think this is all over, with the shady government connections and everything?”
DL sighed. “It’s as over as it is going to be for us. The core is out of the city and the corrupt captain has been arrested. Sometimes they don’t come any more gift wrapped than that.”
A blasted Christmas pun. “You know what? Christmas is next week. I’m taking vacation through the twenty-sixth.”
“Fair enough. Just turn out the light when you are able to get on out of here.”
About an hour later, my shoulder was feeling a tad better and I was ready to head back to my apartment. I looked back at the control room one last time. “Yeah, I think this is where I need to be, for the time being.”
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