The best thing that happened, the only thing (beyond my abilities and training) which allowed me to escape?
Maybe not idiocy. That's not kind.
See, if you're going to hold someone prisoner, you want to put them somewhere isolated.
You don't use a property you happen to control which is used for other purposes, unless it's really isolated and has people who are all in the know.
When you have civilians wandering around, who can't know what's going on in the back room? You set yourself up for security issues.
Chapter 6: Your Lying Eyes
Sensie studio. Thank Zarquon.
After finding a water fountain and splashing a little over the cut, enough to rinse away the worst of the blood, Kendra just walked down the corridors, searching. Long years of fieldcraft had taught her that the best way to be inconspicuous, especially if very noticeable, was to act like she belonged and knew exactly where she was going. So, she did.
No alarm yet. That’ll change soon. She calculated how much longer she had before her erstwhile captors were discovered.
I need wardrobe and makeup. Now!
Giving in to the inevitable, Kendra stopped walking and put on her best “little girl in distress” look. Sure enough, it was only seconds before two of the production workers – who hadn’t noticed the nearly-naked blonde goddess amongst them before – stopped and, almost in stereo, asked, “Can I help you?”
Not a time to be subtle. Lay it on thick!
She batted her eyelashes. “I seem to have taken a wrong turn – I was supposed to be on a break from a shoot, I thought I’d throw something on and get a coffee but...?” Bracing herself, she threw in a simpering giggle.
The two practically fell over themselves giving directions.
“Go down this way, and you see the water cooler? Turn left there -”
“No, turn right, she wants the caff.”
“She needs clothes, dumbass!”
“No she doesn’t.”
“Honey, you want clothes or coffee first?”
“I think at least a robe, please. I don’t usually walk around like this.” Kendra gestured at her body with her hand. The eyes followed her hand and took a small eternity returning to her face.
“Told you! Down the hall, left, right at the second corridor, first door on the right. That’s one of the prop rooms; I’m sure they’ll have something for you.”
“Do you need me to escort you?”
“Oh, thank you, but I think I can find it now. But I’ll come back and thank you both very personally. Where will you be in maybe ten minutes?” They told her, though she didn’t register it at all. In ten minutes she’d be long gone. She hoped.
A final giggle and wave and she left them arguing.
“She’s going to thank me first!”
“I told her how to get there!”
“Yeah, but did you see how she looked at me?”
“You’re crazy...” The voices faded away.
The prop room was all she could have asked for, and deserted to boot. She threw the lock behind her and rummaged.
Comfort, cover, concealment, she thought, repeating a mantra one of her instructors had drilled into her for selecting clothes. It didn’t take long to scrounge shorts, a tank top, a medium-sized bag, a men’s sport coat to add a touch of “California Class”, and sneakers. She thought about sandals – always in profusion – but opted against them. A pair of non-prescription brown contacts went in. She searched Martinez’s jacket quickly, removing a pair of sunglasses, a small wad of Bruins, and, glory be! An ID badge.
She looked at her image in a prop mirror.
This was tougher. A wig would do the trick, but wigs could come off. No dye that she could see, either. She did find a pair of scissors and looked at them long and hard.
With a shake of the head, she put them in the bag. I can’t. Not if there’s any other alternative. But they’ll work as an improvised weapon. She settled for taking her blonde locks and braiding them quickly behind her and topping it with a rakish cap.
Attitude. It’s all about the attitude.
Taking a deep breath, she unlocked the door and emerged.
Chapter 7: The Long Run
Okay. Let’s take a minute and evaluate.
Kendra was walking generally with the flow of the workers, hoping that this many people would lead her to the exit. If not, well, she’d burn that bridge when she got there.
Not enough money, a stolen ID, and no clue where I am – what else can go wrong?
The crowd did seem to be heading for the exit, and Kendra had flowed right with them before ducking off to the side where she could observe, unnoticed. She did sense an increased urgency in people’s actions around her, presumably the alarm going out. Now, though, she was stuck. Maybe.
She observed the routine of people past the security check. It seemed perfunctory, as she would expect. She took out Martinez’s ID.
Crap. It’s got his photo.
Without a second thought, she dropped the ID into the recess behind her. Better to have no ID than the wrong one. Half the guards seemed stoned, confirmed by catching sight of one taking a toke.
Okay, plan B, plan B. How can I have a plan B when I didn’t have a plan A?
She continued scanning the crowd while she thought. It didn’t look like the tide was slowing, but it had to sooner or later. An idea started to tickle the back of her mind, but she still needed to find a certain type to pull this off.
Reactions won’t be worth shit. That’s going to play in my favor.
She waited until her target, a short redhead in a severe business suit, was almost out the doors, then sprinted for the exit, yelling, “KAT! Swanson! Dammit, woman, wait for me!”
As she expected - counted on in fact - a guard stepped in front of her.
“Wait just a sec there -”
“I have to catch her!” panted Kendra with an all-too-genuine urgency. “That’s my ride home; she was supposed to wait for me and if I don’t hurry and catch her she’ll take off without me and then I have to take the transport and I’ll be late!” She ran the words together and let her eyes go wild.
“I understand but -”
“Come on give me a break she’s almost to the garage and if I don’t catch her I’m gonna catch it myself!”
“Dude, just let her go already, she’s holding up everyone else,” said the seated guard.
“Fine. Have a nice night,” he said to Kendra’s retreating back.
She burst out the door, still playing the role.
Never know when they stop watching!
“Kat Swanson, wait your ginger ass for me!” That made the woman hesitate, enough for Kendra to yell again, “I’ll be right there!”
When she stopped, the ginger was facing her and frowning.
“My name isn’t Kat.”
“I – know – that,” Kendra panted. “My – ex – works here – too – and he – wanted to – “talk”.”
The woman’s look turned sympathetic. “That’s tough.”
Kendra nodded, bent over and still catching her breath.
“What’s his name? You should report him to security.”
That was the last thing Kendra wanted, so she made the effort to straighten up and walk towards the garage. “I’ll do that tomorrow,” she promised. “Today, I just want to go home.”
“You want me to walk you to your car?” solicited the woman.
“No, thanks,” answered Kendra. Because I don’t know which one I can hotwire yet. “But you can do something for me tomorrow?”
“What’s that, honey?”
“Add a report to mine? If there’s a second source, Security will take it more seriously.”
“Sure! What’s his name?”
“Terence. Jackson. He’s a real piece of work.”
“Jackson,” mused the woman. “I think I know him. Works in Legal?”
Kendra was astounded but played along. “Yes.”
The ginger nodded. “I’ll be happy to. He made a pass at me last week. You should have seen his face when I told him that he wasn’t my type; I like them concave, not convex.” She eyed Kendra with obvious appreciation.
Just what I don’t need now. Think fast!
“I don’t either, at the moment,” agreed Kendra. “My name’s Kharrie,” she added, holding out her hand.
“Laura. Laura Kortum.” They shook, then Kortum reached into her bag. “My card,” she said, scribbling on the back. “My personal code’s on the back. If you need someone to talk to.”
Oh boy – wait. Maybe I can turn this around.
“Actually, Laura, if you wouldn’t mind – I could really use a ride. I don’t feel like driving right now.”
“I can do that for you Kharrie, but it might be a little tight. You see, I -” She stopped speaking and walking at the same time, and the reason was immediate.
Her ride was an old-fashioned motorcycle.
“Oh my gawd,” said Kendra, admiring the sleek black and chrome machine. “That is frakking AWESOME!”
Kendra walked around the bike, examining it from every angle. “Beautiful, Laura, just beautiful.”
“You ever ride before?” Laura asked.
“A few times,” admitted Kendra, who had no intention of explaining that she’d spent an entire summer on an ancient Honda cruising the continent. “Been a while, though.” That at least was the truth.
“It’s just like sex – just jump on and hold on tight.” Laura straddled the seat and fired the engine, or at least appeared to. The distinctive rumble of the Harley’s engine filled the concrete garage.
Kendra climbed on behind her and wrapped her arms around Laura’s waist. Peering over her shoulder Kendra saw her push a button and the seat began to vibrate. Another button and then Laura gripped the shifter.
Ah. Electric motor with sound effects.
Whatever the propulsion, the acceleration was smooth, and they were out on the road in no time.
“Where do you live?” called Laura over the rush of the wind.
Damn good question!
“Pasadena!” she answered impulsively.
“That’s a little out of my way!”
“But I don’t have anything else to do tonight, so why not?” Kendra could almost hear Laura smile.
“That’s great!” Think think think think! “Maybe we can grab a drink?”
“I’d like that!”
I thought you would. This could get expensive and I’ve only got a few thousand Bruins. How can I get out of this?
There were the alternate IDs, but the problem was they required the paperwork to access them, and that was – yup. In the Bugatti. At least it’s not back with that bitch in New Orleans. I’ll have to settle with her – later, Kendra! First you have to get away from Laura, out of the Confederacy, and then you have to get back to Cass.
Cass! The thought ripped through her. What was happening to her wife? Surely Talbott wouldn’t be so sloppy as to leave a loose end?
The motorcycle, carrying two women with entirely different trains of thought, roared down the highway in the late afternoon sunlight.