(To be read immediately after Chapter 20 - Debacle (Part 2))
Honor and Taha had allowed themselves to be spotted by the security drones surrounding the towering apartment building. They would have used stealth to search out a more concealed entrance into the building, but when they noticed the great lacquer black limo parked out front before it burst into flames, they decided to make it easy. Since vehicles don’t usually spontaneously combust, Honor had reasoned, that Truth had to be nearby. Besides, she had felt him, a surge of sweet energy that started in her gut, although now, that feeling had begun to fade.
Honor’s right shoulder ached where the security drone’s cool hand was clamped. She’d made assurances that she wouldn’t run, but its grip only grew more insistent so she had eventually fallen silent and allowed herself to be lead down a dimly lit first floor corridor to an office. The drone had its hand clamped down on one of Taha’s shoulders. Considering that Honor was there to find Truth and that under normal circumstances she would never have found it so easy to gain entry into the secured uptown building, she’d been all too willing to enter under the supervision of a hulking security drone. Besides, Honor could free herself and Taha whenever she was ready.
Honor scanned the room, tried to absorb as much of her surroundings as she could in one sweep. She was surprised to see Airun, Evera’s husband, long presumed dead, kneeling on the floor. He looked thin and a little worn but still strong. Honor didn’t waste time trying to push into his mind, trying to read his thoughts, but then again, everything he was thinking and feeling was plain to read on his face. Bound and smoke smudged, Honor could see Airun’s fear as well as his happiness and surprise at seeing her. It had been a long time. He was also thinking feverishly for a way out of the seemingly impossible corner they were all in. Besides Airun, Honor noticed to her left a wall with three rows of glowing monitors. There was a leather sofa, a lion’s claw foot desk, an antique lamp with a marble base, another silent security drone, and Supreme Scientist Hashimoto McKinley.
Honor actually felt McKinley before she saw him. His aura, thick and clingy as oil, made her feel dirty. McKinley’s gray eyes burned through Honor, horrifyingly hungry. Honor backed away, repulsed by McKinley’s heat, his lapping smile, and the way his thoughts poured out of him unbidden weather she wanted to hear them or not.
Taha’s voice echoed deep in her head, saying exactly what she felt, Gross. Can you hear what he’s thinking…about you?
I’m trying not to. Honor had raised her mental barrier against McKinley. His voice was little more than a garbled collection of consonant sounds now.
Shall I tell you?
No way! Honor stabbed an angry glance at Taha. He was trying hard, yet failing, to suppress his crooked grin.
Alright, alright. I’ll keep it to myself. Taha’s face twisted as if he’d just bitten into a lemon. His voice echoed even more loudly this time, tinged with the same disgust that Honor felt. This guy is sick. An absolute freak. Let’s just say that he is quite captivated by you. There was a tail of lingering laughter as Taha’s voice receded from Honor’s mind.