SMS heaved a sigh of relief at the sight of allies instead of enemies. Well, allies of a sort, at least. People who weren’t actively interested in shooting at him.
He made brief eye contact with Cyber. The cocky grin on the hacker’s face was a little less sure than usual, a little more reserved. SMS wondered if Cyber was as uncomfortable with all these guns around as he was.
Behind Pavelec, Innis, and Cyber, several more familiar faces were piling into the warehouse, some armed with whatever firearms Innis had been able to supply them with and others arriving empty-handed, better capable of asserting themselves with their bodies or their minds than they were with bullets. A few gave SMS a cursory nod in greeting. He had played dispatcher for most of them on various jobs or tasks for Innis at one point or another. Each of them represented some further eroding of his conscience, as he’d worked his way into Innis’s trust, trying to get close enough to the man to find that key piece of information necessary to topple his empire.
If not for Cyber, he’d still be on that treadmill. But maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. He’d made no real progress towards his goal for how long… Two years? Life with Innis had become comfortable, easy. SMS had told himself he’d just been biding his time, waiting for the right opportunity, but he hadn’t wanted to admit to himself that he wasn’t sure anymore whether he’d recognize that opportunity if and when it presented himself.
Cyber’s arrival had shaken all of that up and reminded SMS what was really important, and that was good, if potentially dangerous. The time would come, and probably soon, for SMS to figure out where he now stood with Innis, and whether there was any chance for him to earn back his position of trust, but first things first: there were the Laurentians to deal with.
“I’ll take her back,” said Pavelec to SMS, coming over and putting her arm protectively around Olivia’s shoulders. A couple of Innis’s crew followed after her and pushed past to the exit, taking up stations outside. They left the door a few inches open.
“I wasn’t sure how soon you’d arrive,” Pavelec told Innis.
“Oh, I was ready for something like this,” said Innis. “You seem to have made pretty quick time getting here, yourself. Didn’t you tell me 15 minutes?”
“Not much traffic,” said Pavelec. SMS saw through the lie immediately. They’d had to dodge through plenty of traffic on their way here. But come to think of it, it had only taken them five or six minutes to do it, nowhere close to 15… Had Pavelec been trying to mislead Innis?
“The most important thing is to get Olivia away,” Pavelec continued. “The Laurentians could be right behind you. I have a way off the Island, but I think we should do everything we can to avoid a chase. I’m going to take Olivia and head out, and we can send a decoy vehicle at the same time, in case they have someone watching already. But I want to maintain an obvious defensive presence around the warehouse, to make it look like both vehicles are decoys and we’ve actually kept Olivia here.”
“Not a bad plan,” said Innis, stroking his chin. “I brought enough firepower to keep a pretty tight perimeter here. How many of your people are around?”
“Two,” said Pavelec.
“I didn’t want to draw any extra attention to the place with a bunch of extra bodies,” explained Pavelec. “Baldwin’s the man you saw coming in. He can lock people in place as long as he’s concentrating on it, so he’s pretty useful. Taylor is out back. She bends light around herself, so she can essentially be invisible as long as she isn’t moving. Good for ambushes and pincer tactics, although if she hides her eyes she isn’t able to see, so she generally has to take her cues from someone else.”
“Good to know,” said Innis.
“I need one of them to drive the second car,” said Pavelec. “Taylor’s outside, so I guess it might as well be her. But Baldwin’s all yours until this is over.”
Innis nodded politely. “I appreciate the gesture.”
“This hurts my pride to say,” said Pavelec, “but I really appreciate your support. You know how important Olivia is, and the rest of them, too. We can’t lose another one like we lost Carton.”
“Indeed,” said Innis.
“Anyways, I’m wasting time. I’d better go.” Pavelec turned Olivia back towards the exit. She took one step, and then the wall of the warehouse shook as something slammed against it. Pavelec stopped. “What was…” There was more scuffling outside, and another bang. Someone outside pushed the exit door shut.
“Poor Taylor,” said Innis, smiling softly. “Maybe you’d better wait here just a little longer, Mia…”
Pavelec turned around very slowly, pure confusion on her face. SMS looked back and forth between her and Innis: his grin was growing inch by inch, and her eyes were first widening in realization, then narrowing in rage. “What are you—”
“Drop the gun,” commanded Innis.
The RCMP agent slowly reached towards her belt, withdrew her gun, clicked the safety on, and laid it down at her feet.
“Mind picking that up for me, SMS?” said Innis.
SMS gingerly bent to retrieve the gun and carried it over to Innis. He saw his own bewilderment reflected in Cyber’s face.
Pavelec was almost spitting with fury. “So what’s the story? Is this just opportunism, or has it been you all along? Carton’s murder, the ‘help’ in the investigation, the meeting, the spies”—her eyes burned into SMS—”the attacks today, Bailey suggesting we travel all the way out to Sooke… It was all a plan to get access to Olivia, wasn’t it? You probably hoped to get here before us, so you could take Olivia, blame it on ‘the Laurentians,’ and still have me in your pocket to guide you to the rest of them… How did I not see this coming?”
“Don’t be too hard on yourself,” smirked Innis. “You aren’t the first person to underestimate me, and you won’t be the last.” And was it just SMS’s imagination, or had Innis flashed him an oddly pointed look as he said those words?