Title: Redstone Chapter 15, Part 1.
Today was the day. Wyl was nervous; not a strange reaction to the beginning of what he hoped would be the end, but he was feeling it more than he thought he would.
It would all come down to timing, every piece of the puzzle having to snap into place at just the right time. There was a little leeway in a few places; as long as Wyl got to the infirmary before Tamara, he could plant the data chip in the drop spot for her. Then she’d need to get to it before anyone else found it or it was cleared away, but she seemed confident that she could. The chip was smaller than a fingernail and completely transparent, so the odds of someone else finding it when they weren’t actively looking weren’t good, so. They had some breathing room there.
After that it was up to Tamara. She was the one who’d been spending time in the administrative wing, so she had the best idea of when to open all the vents and trigger the gas so that the fewest people would be between her and Warden Harrison. Once the gas was set off, people would fall where they stood and be out for a good half an hour, or at least that was what Robbie thought. There were uncertainties there as well. The supply of gas was finite, and it would be dispersed throughout a wider portion of the prison than usual, so it was entirely possible that it would be less potent than the data suggested. Half an hour wasn’t much time for Tamara to break into Harrison’s office, steal the data she needed to and wipe the cameras. Less time than that meant her success would be a toss-up.
If it all went well, then they’d get hard evidence of malfeasance to Garrett by the end of the day, and be off this fucking rock in another 48 hours. If it didn’t…well, Wyl didn’t care to think about that. He didn’t have time to think about it, either. It was time to get this caper started, and that meant getting hit in the face. Thank fuck Robbie was on shift right now.
“ZeeBee,” he told his robot, whose eyestrip shifted obediently to face him. “Enact one-time only five second delay on defensive protocols.”
ZeeBee’s strip dimmed. “Defensive protocols are not to be tampered with, per previous commands.”
Wyl frowned. “What commands?”
“Per Christopher Robin’s alpha command. As follows: ZeeBee, no matter what, don’t let Wyl talk you into turning off your protections, okay? You stay on him and you watch him and don’t let anybody hurt him.”
It was creepy; ZeeBee even did Robbie’s voice perfectly. Wyl hadn’t known these robots had that capability. It would be cooler to have found out when Robbie wasn’t cockblocking his plan, though. “Override Christopher Robin’s alpha command, authorization Wyl-bonder-thirteen. Enact previously stated delay on defensive protocols.”
“Five second delay enacted. Per Christopher Robin’s beta command, I am instructed to tell you: goddammit, Wyl, don’t be an idiot.”
Wyl grinned, shaking his head as he battled with the nerves that made his hands want to tremble. “Thanks, ZeeBee.”
So much that could go wrong here…it wouldn’t take a lot of digging to work out that he’d built the chip if it was found, and if that happened, then it would be easy to dump Wyl and Robbie in the depths of Redstone to fight it out long before Garrett could do anything about it. Not to mention Tamara, who as a natural had far fewer of the inbuilt resources that the rest of them had. She would be royally fucked, and then Kyle would never get out of here and Isidore’s faith would be repaid with utter chaos.
Wyl wondered, not for the first time, if Garrett really understood what he asked of people. He was clearly getting used to maneuvering on a grander scale than Wyl could see. He wondered, when would they stop being his friends, and start being pieces on a board?
Not fair, he chided himself. Garrett was a spoiled, elitist jackass sometimes, but he never evaded his responsibilities and he never forgot about his friends and family. There was no doubt that he loved his husband and kid more than anything, and the rest of them, those who had been brought into the sphere of his affections; they were more than lip service. Wyl knew that; it was just hard to remember it sometimes, when they were so far apart, and things seemed so fraught.
Nah, it’d be fine. Or at least, it would if Wyl got himself carried to the clinic in the next five minutes or so. He reached over to his Morse machine and tapped out a final message: Going now. Ten-fifteen minutes.
Understood. Good luck.
Nice and succinct, good. Wyl made sure the chip was securely attached to the back side of his earlobe, then headed for the door of their apartment. It was time to pick a fight.
He was in luck today. Of his two most forward suitors, if violent-minded rapists could be called that, only one of them was downstairs in the common room, zoned out in front of the holoscreen. There were a few other men there with him, but Wyl didn’t care about them. They might follow the man’s lead, but Wyl had ZeeBee as his ace in the hole.
He walked down the stairs to the main floor, and made it almost all the way to the lounge in the center of the room before the man—what was his name, Fortay, that was it, Horace Fortay—even noticed him. And then when he did notice him, well. Wyl hardly had to do any work at all.
“He lives!” Fortay said, grinning widely. Nobody should have a mouth that wide. At further glance, Wyl could see that the edges of his lips had been cut and extended, deliberately creating the skin-tight rictus effect he was seeing now. It was one of the simpler, creepier mods he’d ever seen on a person. “Hey there, little lady. Are you looking for you daddy?”
“No,” Wyl said, affecting a sigh. “He’s working and I’m bored in our rooms.”
“Well, sweetheart.” If his grin had stretched any further it would have overtaken the rest of his face. “Why don’t you come and sit down next to me? I’ll keep you company until your daddy comes back.”
“Thanks,” Wyl said with a simper. He sat down on the edge of the lounge and scooted in toward the middle, where Fortay was spread out. The man reached a hand out, grabbed his upper arm and pulled him in even closer, until Wyl was reluctantly plastered against the man’s hard, bony chest.
“There, baby,” Fortay murmured. His breath smelled like stimulants and burnt hair. Wyl didn’t want to imagine what he’d been eating. “S’better like this, yeah? You wanna get a little more comfortable?” He pressed his groin against Wyl’s hip; he was already hard. Fuck, what kind of drugs was this guy on? Did he walk around with a perpetual boner? “We could get really comfortable. I could show you a real man’s cock, not that old, gray thing you’re used to.”
Oh, so astonishingly original. Wyl was already done with this. He pursed his lips and pretended to think about it. “Hmm, we could. Except I think my eyes might fall out of their fucking sockets if I have to look at what you’re deluded enough to call a real man’s cock.”
Fortay was caught off guard, his jaw actually dropping. One of the onlookers laughed nervously. “I mean,” Wyl continued, warming to his subject, “you look like more of a stretcher than a fattener, so you’ve either got a filament-thin little poker of a dick coiled up in your mommy’s underwear or it’s long and floppy and hangs down to your knees, but I can’t get any traction with that, if you know what I mean.”
“Wha—you—my dick ain’t fucking modded, you little cocksucker!”
Wyl smirked as he eased back toward the edge of the lounge. “Oh no? Then I guess I’d be lucky to be able to find it at all, it’s probably so itsy-bitsy—”
“Bitch!” Fortay lunged, and Wyl helpfully stuck his face forward, hoping for a nice, smooth punch right across the cheek. Instead he got fingers around his throat, and the weight of Fortay’s body crashing into his, propelling him to the hard ground.
Wyl gasped and clawed at Fortay’s arms, trying to break his grip, but the guard was far stronger than Wyl. He tried to remember his training but it had been a while since he’d practiced, and was he blacking out? Fuck, blacking out wasn’t part of the plan…when would the five seconds be over? When would…he…
“Alert! Alert!” One bright green zap later and Fortay had been literally blasted off of Wyl’s chest. Wyl tried to inhale but somehow couldn’t, and after another moment he went unconscious.
Waking up in the infirmary was good. Waking up and not knowing how long he’d been there, that was bad, really fucking bad. Waking up and seeing the doctor standing over him, staring down sourly as he pulled a syringe straight out of Wyl’s throat, that was extra bad.
“Try not to cough,” the doctor advised a second after Wyl started coughing. “You dislocated your hyoid bone. It’s been stabilized and I’ve given you an intramuscular injection of Regen to jumpstart the healing process, but you’re not going to want to speak for another few hours if you can help it.”
“…long?” Wyl managed to wheeze.
The doctor glared at him. “What did I just tell you?”
“How long…here?” Wyl persisted.
“Fifteen minutes. Your husband has been informed, but his duties prevent him from visiting you right now. I’m keeping you under observation until I can relinquish you into his custody.”
Oh shit, Robbie knew. Robbie knew that Wyl had basically had his fucking throat crushed. He was probably spitting iron.
“This unit brought you to me,” the doctor went on, turning his glare on ZeeBee, who stood calmly in one corner of the room. “It has since refused to leave. I informed the techs that it’s malfunctioning, but they say it’s a low priority, so you’re going to have to put up with its company for now.”
Wyl waved a hand to indicate fine, and silently promised himself he’d modify ZeeBee’s code to hide his tampering better. The last thing he wanted was for the robot to be taken away and reprogrammed from scratch.
“Now, I have another patient to see to. What a day,” the doctor muttered. “First a spouse, now a natural; I don’t even have a treatment plan for someone so primitive.”
A natural. Oh, shit, Tamara was here already, and the doctor was going to see her now. The doctor turned and left, and as soon as he was gone, Wyl motioned for ZeeBee, well aware this was all being recorded. Fuck it, he’d deal with it somehow, and in the meantime he’d make this as innocuous as possible.
He reached up to scratch his ear, and came away with the chip in his hand. “ZeeBee,” he whispered, touching the robot on the arm and sticking the chip to it. He patted it once. “Go make Tamara your baby.” It was a fairly complicated command for his bot, since it had never met Tamara before and could only work off of conjecture, but after a moment of perfect stillness apart from its eyestrip pulsing, ZeeBee said, “Accepted,” and left the room.
Wyl sank back into the bed, conscious of the burn in his throat and his creeping fatigue. He’d done his best. It was up to ZeeBee and Tamara now.