Read The Infected 3: Cast Iron Online

Authors: P. S. Power

Tags: #Horror, #General Fiction

The Infected 3: Cast Iron (8 page)

BOOK: The Infected 3: Cast Iron
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Then, as he started to let go he slipped something into her palm. The move was covert and hidden from view carefully. She didn’t look at it, just trapping the paper under her thumb, then moving to where the baggage was being offloaded from the underside of the plane, as Sammy started shaking everyone else’s hand. It might just be his card, or even phone number, if the guy was looking to get lucky with the tourist ladies. It wasn’t though. She could tell from the thickness of the paper. Men didn’t give you their numbers on full sized pieces of paper and business cards were on heavy stock, not folded sheets.

Grabbing her bag she turned to find her way blocked by Lancaster, who was already holding his own luggage as well. The bags were similar, medium sized duffels in black, both held in the right hand. They also both had papers tucking into their palms. Glancing around she saw that Reyes had one too. Not Burke though. No one else did either. So that was a sign, wasn’t it? It meant a whole bunch of things, all at once. Most likely at least. The tall light haired agent gave her a half nod. No more than would be polite, since they were old friends. They had friends in common too, which made sense. It also meant that she wasn’t the only one being called in on this mission, if it was one at all and not just a trap.

That meant that Sammy wasn’t just a driver though, or a guy given a few bucks to pass a simple message. He at least had to have photos of all of them, or he might have messed up. Hers was easy enough to get, since she was in that realm of quasi famous people that being on Team one forced on a person, even if they weren’t really popular like Prime or Lady Glory. Another year or two of the kind of media exposure she was getting would probably make her noticeable on the street to some people even. Unfortunately that wasn’t normally a good thing. Most of the people that could immediately name all the operatives on Team one were bigots that learned who they were for targeting purposes, not fans at all.

Lancaster and Reyes, no one should have a picture of either of them, except their mothers. It wasn’t really that strict, but they were both careful that way, which meant someone probably had surveillance on them. That didn’t bode well, as far as she was concerned.

Friends didn’t normally bother to spy on you.

They walked together; not making any sound, both scanning the area for attack, just in case it was a set-up. Then loaded their bags in the cargo area under the side of the bus, with everyone else. Marcia was careful, but plastered a smile on her face as she gawked at everything like a tourist. True, she was looking at the wrong things, but most people wouldn’t pick up that her staring at the buildings around them, the control tower and the high rises in the distance had anything to do with more than simple curiosity, would they? She didn’t think so, but the second Lancaster started doing it Ink did too, catching the idea easily.

He was supposed to be on guard detail after all, so it was a good idea in general, wasn’t it? He moved closer to Tobin, ready to move the smaller man to safety if he had to. Ink wasn’t tall, about five-eight, but was so muscular he looked almost like a dwarf. Long body, slightly short legs, and arms that were a little too big for the frame. He moved gracefully though, his natural tattoos changing as he did his job. If it meant anything it was a pattern too complex for Marcia to figure out at a glance.

The ride went smoothly, even though she stayed on high alert. The hotel wasn’t that far away, but the traffic was pretty bad as they closed in on it, not able to see the beach until they pulled up to the place, which looked modern, had a very large pool that could be seen through the glass on one end of the building and red uniformed men waiting to take their luggage under a covered area. She still had the paper in her hand, tucking it away casually as she stood, into her pocket. It had taken work to find a skirt that had one and a special trip into town. Marcia grabbed her own bag and glared a bit at the man that was standing by to help her.

“Sorry, federal agent. I have weapons in the bag. It doesn’t leave my control.” It wasn’t true, but telling him that she just didn’t want his help seemed rude. Lancaster and the other agents did the same thing, seeming a little stern about the whole idea, but they probably really did have weapons both on them and in their things.

Denis walked over and nodded at the two men that were waiting for them to pass over their worldly goods and did something unexpected. He tipped them ten dollars. Each. Considering his first mode that must have been hard. He was greed personified after all.

It was his thing.

“Sorry guys, a lot of us have something like that going on. Just on vacation, but you know how it is; the law requires us to be armed at all times. Most of use at least, there are a few people that could use the help though…” He glanced at Charlot knowingly, who glared back at them, or at least at the men that hadn’t come to take her bags yet. She wasn’t obviously Infected, but she kind of assumed slow service was a sign of someone trying to insult her over it anyway.

It was a real enough point, but Marcia rarely traveled armed anymore. She didn’t need to. She glanced at Denis though, wondering.

“You packing Denis?” She knew he could shoot, but his power was such that most people simply couldn’t stand up to him in a fight. Not lethal, sure, but it was still enough to get by with in most situations. Better than a firearm in most cases too.

He looked around and raised his chin just the tiniest bit.

“Yeah. It occurred to me a while ago that it would be easier in most cases to justify a shooting than using Infected abilities on someone, even in self-defense. The court doesn’t care that much, but public opinion… you know.” His look was a little sad, which was an emotion she’d never noticed in him before. Annoyed, angry, even playful. Greedy all the time, but he wasn’t over the top about how it showed as a rule.

Sad though, that was something new. It was a bit frightening to tell the truth. They were on vacation and if he was feeling sad about something, that meant a whole situation had happened that she wasn’t aware of. It wasn’t about his father dying. That had made him and Kerry both ridiculously happy. No, it was something else. What that was, she didn’t know. It was distracting at a time she couldn’t afford to be. Her instant response was to snap at the guy, telling him to stop it, but she stopped herself. They hadn’t always been friends, sniping and snipping at each other for years on an almost daily basis even. Bad enough she’d felt like breaking his arms and legs on more than one occasion and at one point killing him outright. That wasn’t the case now though. They were on the same side. More, he might be useful on her current mission, if he was willing to help her out with it at all.

He didn’t have too, it wasn’t anything official, so she couldn’t order it or try to force him into anything, so being mean to him about his feelings probably wasn’t a good plan. Instead she patted him on the arm gently.

“You OK?”

He looked around and finally leaned in a little.

“Later? It’s… Screwed up, but yeah, maybe you can help. Probably not. I don’t know.” Without saying more he started to walk into the building, catching up to Peggy and helping with her bag, as if the woman wasn’t fifteen times stronger than he was. It was nice of him though, and she let him do it. Cute. Or it should have been.

Marcia didn’t have time to notice things like that and a sense of urgency suddenly flooded her mind. Something was wrong with the situation in the hotel. It wasn’t anything clear either. No one had a hand too near a pocket in the lobby except one older man that was clearly reaching for his wallet at the front desk. That could be a trick, of course, and there were enough people to make the whole thing scary on a certain level, if only in abstract, but no one honestly seemed out of place. There were a few bags sitting off to one side, under the large picture widows to the left of the front door. Those could hold bombs, but other than just being out of place, that shouldn’t be enough to get her this worked up. Not instantly like it had.

No, it was probably something else and whatever it was ate at her. Like acid in her stomach eating through to her spine. Not that she’d ever felt anything like that, but if she did, it would cause her to respond like she was in the moment, Marcia felt certain. She scanned the room again, blocking the doorway, reluctant to let everyone else enter if there was a real threat. She had people to protect with her, that things like bombs and bullets could actually hurt. Nothing showed itself, not at first.

After about fifteen seconds the trap sprang on them. She wasn’t the target, but the camera crew descended from an alcove on the right, complete with the thirty something blond woman from the conservative network that she always associated with the anti-Infected movement. She had to watch it for her job, in a “know the enemy” kind of way, but that didn’t mean she liked it overly. That station was pretty vile. The only saving grace on the whole matter was that this particular woman had the hots for Brian. Though why a serious news crew would be covering something like a Food Network conference she didn’t get at all. After making sure they didn’t have weapons out and ready, she decided to get the heck out of the way. After all, her job for the week was to be as low key as possible, so that if she had to vanish she could.

It was kind of funny, watching what happened next. The cameras, and there were three full crews, each with different logo’s on the jackets, homed in on different people without hesitation. It was almost like they’d come with plans for it or something. The one from the conservative network made a bee-line for Brian; one went for Mark directly, though the person with that crew grabbed Warren and pushed him in alongside to ask questions and the last moved in on Tobin, who instantly tried to hide behind everyone else.

That didn’t work too well, since it was clearly him they wanted.

“Mr. Peterson! Tobin! Can we ask a few questions? Your new fans want to know all about you!” The woman asking the questions almost wasn’t one. In fact she looked to be a kid, about fifteen or so. Good looking in an earthy sort of way, but possibly from a local show or something. It didn’t seem right at first, her being so young, and Marcia was willing to bet money that asking Tobin anything would be a lost cause.

Until he walked forward, smiling hugely, arms spread happily.

“Ah! I’d love to chat. Is there anything in particular you’d like to discus?” The voice was all wrong for the little guy. Happy, confident and powerful. Like he’d been possessed or mind controlled.

Denis moved in beside her slowly, not noticing as he bumped into her back just a little. It was cozier than he normally got with her on purpose, but that was probably due to the fact he wasn’t paying attention to her at all. She got it of course; he was using his power to boost Tobin’s confidence in front of the camera. A lot. Enough to overcome his first mode. Going directly against it in fact. That took real strength. Tobin was naturally so shy that it shouldn’t have been possible… and probably wasn’t, using any other means to get the job done. Denis was just that strong.

He whispered to her gently so no one without super-powers would hear him.

“Don’t let anyone get in the way. I need a clear line of sight.”

It made sense and was probably the plan all along. She’d wondered how Tobin was going to perform in front of an audience. It seemed that there was already a plan in place to get it done. A good one too, from the way the little man was currently charming the girl from, it turned out, a major kid’s network program. Young people loved him already. Since someone had been leaking his stuff for illegal downloading online, he had a fan base already. Especially tween girls.

Marcia could see that. Nothing said non-threatening in a sexual way like Tobin Peterson. He was good at singing too, and kind of cute in a weird way. Like a little kid was, only not like that at all. Plus he had that “naughty Infected” thing going for him at the same time, which made him an instant “bad boy” even though he was about as far from that in reality as it was possible to be and still be male.

One of the other camera crews decided to get in on the action then, the one from the Nazi network or whatever they called it, but the blond woman waited her turn rather politely, which gave Marcia time to grab Den by the arm and drag him around to keep him in position. It could be an ambush or attack coming, her basically calling the freak out for daring to sing in public or something. When the attractive woman spoke to Tobin, she was…

Nice.

Really kind actually. It was almost out of character for her, from the interviews Marcia had seen in the past. The woman actually patted Tobin on the back, his oversized light blue t-shirt looking out of place next to her nice red skirt and top. It was light weight clothing, but covered nearly everything from neck to knee, but had the buttons opened enough that the top of her breasts were visible. Clearly by design. So conservative but hinting at slightly slutty? That seemed to be the game as far as Marcia could tell. Not that it bugged her. The woman worked for evil people, but that didn’t mean she was that way herself, did it?

“I wonder what her game is? Doesn’t she normally hate Infected people? That’s part of her job description, isn’t it?” She spoke the words out loud, which got an answer from the man next to her.

“Oh, um, she told me that Proxy and a bunch of Team two members saved her life once. I don’t know how. Apparently she’s a convert to the cause, at least as far as they go.” Denis sounded a bit abstract and dreamy, due to the amount of focus he was using at the moment. His power was strong, but it took effort to narrow the targeting down to just one person in a crowd.

BOOK: The Infected 3: Cast Iron
10.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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