From the Author
"Can't this heap of metal fly any faster?" Penny Crane demanded.
The hover pilot, Agent Miles DeSanto, shot her a wry smile over his shoulder. "Don't get your knickers in a twist, girlie, we're all but breaking the sound barrier. Just ten minutes until we reach the Isle of Exile," he soothed.
"Bryn Wellington might not have ten minutes, Miles," Penny snapped.
The hover's comms unit crackled, signaling an incoming message. Miles pressed a button on the console.
"Traffic control to 4928," a male voice said through the speaker. "Please confirm your identity 4928."
"Agent Miles DeSanto, UNITED ID 230," Miles replied, furrowing his eyebrows. "I have two injured civilians onboard and have already been cleared to land. A medical emergency team should be standing by to meet us, over."
Anxiety shot through Penny. Victoria Walburton, head of the UNITED Council, had assured them that the staff on the islands would be awaiting their arrival. Why was traffic control asking for confirmation?
"We need to reroute you, 4928," the speaker replied.
"Why would we reroute?" Miles demanded. "We have two passengers in critical condition, they need immediate medical treatment."
"That information is classified," the voice answered shortly. "No aircrafts are cleared to land on any of the islands. Your orders are to proceed to the States. There is an airstrip eleven miles outside of D.C. on the Virginia side. We will have a medical team standing by at that location, over."
Penny shoved Miles out of the way and pressed the image button on the console to see the man on the other end. A holo of a guy with big brown eyes and closely shaven hair appeared.
"The hell you're rerouting us," Penny shouted into the intercom.
The traffic control agent widened his eyes, taken aback by the venom in her voice.
"Agent Crane...," the man began tentatively, trailing off when something behind him caught his attention.
The internal intercom on the hovercraft screeched. It was followed by the voice of the head medic, Agent Carolyn Rice, who was treating Riley and Bryn in med-bay.
"Wellington is coding, we need to get her on the ground now," Agent Rice insisted.
"We're doing our best, Carolyn," Miles growled.
Both Penny and Miles turned their attention back to the holo screen, but the traffic control agent had disappeared.
"What the hell?"
As Miles spoke the words, the radar screen lit up like a holiday tree. Red and green blips appeared all at once. The dots were moving steadily, all converging on one target. It happened to be the same destination that Miles was trying to reach, The Isle of Exile.
Penny and Miles exchanged nervous glances.
"Traffic Control, this is 4928, come in," Miles barked into the intercom.
"Miles?" Carolyn called. "What's happening up there?"
Miles muted the internal intercom and turned to Penny. "Go back there. Tell them not to panic, but I think we might have company. I'll keep trying to get some answers."
Penny nodded. "Okay. I'll get my uncle on the line, too, and make sure his people are prepared for our arrival. Maybe he'll know what's going on."
She hurried through the main passenger cabin and down the stairs to the hover's med-bay. Agent Rice met Penny on the landing.
"What's happening?" she demanded.
Sparing a glance toward the teams of medics swarming the two gurneys--one with Bryn Wellington and the other with Riley Wyld--Penny pulled Carolyn to one side by the doctor's scrub top.
"Look, Miles doesn't want to cause a panic, but traffic control wants to divert us." Carolyn began shaking her head adamantly. Penny held up a hand to silence her. "I know. We told them Bryn doesn't have that much time. They're still insisting no aircrafts can land." Penny lowered her voice before continuing. "We're picking up a lot of activity on the radar. I think...." She hesitated, not wanting to voice the suspicion.
"What? What is it?" the doctor demanded, her voice raising an octave.
"An attack on the Isle is imminent," Penny whispered. "I think we're flying right into the danger zone. We might take some fire."
On cue, the hover tilted sharply to the left. Penny and Carolyn both lurched a step. Medical instruments flew through the air. Without conscious thought, Penny used her telekinesis to freeze the objects before they caused any injuries. Syringes, vials, and bloodied cloths hung in midair, as did several of the medics who'd lost their footing when the hover banked.
"Miles?" Penny never spoke to the other agent mentally, but they'd spent so much time together lately that reaching his mind was a cakewalk.
"Get up here," he returned, stress evident in his voice.
The hover stabilized, and Agent Rice let out a sigh of relief. Penny didn't share her sentiments. They were under attack. She didn't need Miles to tell her as much--she read the truth in his thoughts.
The hover dipped dangerously low. Carolyn screamed, arms flailing as she desperately clawed for a handhold. The gurneys were secured to the walls, and both Bryn and Riley were strapped down. Still, Bryn's body bucked. Her back arched and head lulled to one side. The machine monitoring her brainwaves flat lined. Penny's heart dropped.
"I need you now," Miles roared inside her head. Somehow, he managed to steady the craft again.
Riley moaned and turned his head. He vomited, then passed out.
"Carolyn, I need you to listen to me," Penny began, her own stomach feeling as though it was on the spin cycle. She swallowed the bile burning her throat. "Get Bryn stable. Now. That's an order."
Penny's words carried physical weight. She didn't like using mind manipulation on the doctor, but the situation was dire. And Carolyn Rice was on the verge of losing it.
"You will keep Bryn and Riley alive until we reach Virginia."
Agent Rice nodded, her eyes wide and glassy.
"Girlie, I'm not screwing around," Miles sent. "I can't keep dodging shit."
Penny took a deep breath and used her best "Talia" voice on the doctor. "Bryn and Riley are not dying today." Without waiting for a response, she sprinted to the cockpit.
"What's going on?" Penny demanded, sliding into the copilot seat.
On the radar, the dots had multiplied like rabbits in springtime. Penny zoomed in. Over a dozen fighter hovers were directly over the islands, represented by the green dots. The red ones were heat signatures and signified people.
"They're so many of them." Penny pointed to the red dots on the radar. Turning to Miles, she added. "And they're flying sideways and upward."
"Maybe they're morphs? You know, like the kid--they change into birds," he suggested.
Penny shook her head. "Birds wouldn't show up on this screen, even human morphers. Those are people flying."
The radar screen began blinking. A warning siren blared through the medi-hover's internal intercom.