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dream of hurting my own brother. In fact, I'm going to turn you loose." She
paused for a moment to run her tongue over thin lips, enjoying her power over
them, intentionally dragging out the suspense. "Yes, I'm going to turn you
loose... in your own lifeboat."
She laughed as she saw their expressions. "Don't blame me, I got the idea from
you. After I listened to your message on the lifeboat's vocorder, I thought,
how dramatic! Hundreds of years after the fact, a message arrives from the
long-lost prince, describing how his evil sister robbed him of the throne! The
public would love it! The historians would go crazy! I'd be even more famous!
In fact, the idea was so appealing, I almost let the boat go, message and
Claudia paused, assuming a look of pained regret. "But then I realized how
selfish that would be. Surely you would prefer to deliver your message in
person! True, the trip would last hundreds of years, but I
knew you wouldn't mind. A message is always so much more personal if you
deliver it yourself!"
Alex shook his head sadly. "No wonder Father wanted me to assume the throne.
You're sick."
Claudia's eyes flashed a brilliant blue, all color draining from her face.
"Sick? You call me sick? Why you..."
Suddenly there was the muted thump of a distant explosion. The whole ship
shook like a thing possessed, and since McCade was expecting it, even hoping
for it, he was ready. As he fell he managed to take two marines with him. A
distant part of his mind heard the emergency klaxons going off, knew the
exploding lifeboat must have done a lot of damage to Neptune's launching bay,
and hoped it would keep the crew busy for a while. The lifeboat's drive had
gone critical and blown up a full half hour later than he'd originally
estimated. But, he thought as he hit the deck and managed to kick one of the
marines in the head, sabotaging drives is not an exact science.
McCade looked up just in time to see Rico put his head down, run full tilt
into a marine's stomach, and fall as a vicious blow from a rifle butt brought
him down.
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Phil had already gone into full augmentation, snapping his durasteel shackles
as if they were made of cheap plastic, and charging Claudia's bodyguard all in
one continuous blur of motion.
Already confused by the explosion, and safe inside their armor, the guards saw
Phil coming but didn't take him seriously. After all, what could a
shaggy-looking freak do to them? By the time they found out, it was way too
late. Phil peeled their armor off like tin foil. Then he went to work with
razor-sharp durasteel claws, slicing through flesh and bone, killing anything
that moved. As the marines tried to fight back, they found themselves slipping
and sliding in their own blood. And as they died, they couldn't believe what
was happening. How could this be? What kind of creature can tear armor apart
with its bare hands?
However, Phil didn't escape untouched. He was soon bleeding from a dozen
wounds, adding his blood to that of the marines.
Claudia tried to run. As she launched herself toward the open hatch her face
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was frozen in a mask of terrified desperation. She had thought herself
invulnerable, absolutely inviolate, and the ease with which
Phil had decimated her bodyguard had shaken her to the core.
McCade swore. She was going to escape! Desperately he slammed the heel of his
hand into the marine's nose, pushing the cartilage up into his brain, killing
him instantly. Then he tried to get up, knowing he'd never make it in time. By
now the only obstacle between Claudia and the hatch was the swaying figure of
Swanson-Pierce. The explosion had knocked Lady Linnea to the floor, but by
virtue of some miracle, or just his own stubborn pride, the naval officer
still stood. With a tremendous effort of will, Swanson-Pierce managed to bring
his sagging head up, and smiled at Claudia as be toppled forward into her
She tripped over the officer's body, skidded across the slick floor, and
crashed into a console. Before she could recover, her brother had rolled over
to lock powerful legs around her neck, squeezing until her eyes bulged and her
face turned blue.
McCade yelled, "Alex!" but the other man was already releasing her. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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