Chapter 35: Destruction
Deena ran directly toward the holding room where Luther and Katy were being tortured. She hadn’t seen Katy through Ruben’s eyes, but she had smelled the lady, the blood, and her fear.
Blasting from speakers all over the place, Leo Drye’s voice yelled, “Intruders. There’s a girl entering the inner courtyard. West entrance. Stop her!
“And get this door open!”
Deena grinned like a wolf. Ruben had done his job well. Back when she’d entered Katy’s apartment as a walking skeleton, it hadn’t been her strength that snapped the lock. The tears she had spilt in frustration had contained nanobots. They had quickly entered the mechanism and done things to the metal. Somehow, they had turned the brass much softer.
They could also turn a lock or a hinge into a solid piece of metal, once they were delivered to the target.
Leo’s people would find a lot of frozen locks once they tried to move.
Bullets splattered on the walkway behind her. Up above on the balcony, someone was shooting at her. Only her speed had thrown him off.
No more bullets! She ducked under the overhang.
Around the corner, a nervous guard with a gun crouched in front of the door, facing Ruben. The dog leapt.
Using the gun as a club, knowing Drye would have no mercy on the man who killed Ruben, he tried to hold him off.
Deena raced into the fray at a blurring speed and ripped the gun from the man’s hands before he could react. Surrounded by things that made no sense, the guard fled.
The door was unlocked. She entered.
Luther ripped the last of the duct tape off of his leg. He was free at last.
With the help of Leo’s announcement, he knew this was his only chance to escape.
The door swung open so fast it slammed against the inside wall.
He looked up at the strange woman, and the attack dog at her feet.
“Deena?” he said, hesitantly.
“Who were you expecting? Let’s go.”
He turned to the bed. “I’ll need help with Katy.”
“Can’t she walk?”
Luther tried to raise her to a sitting position, but she was limp. “She’s drugged. I don’t think she’ll survive.”
Deena put her arm under the woman. “Why is her head wrapped?”
“Thompson. He used a knife on her face.”
She shivered. “I can carry her.”
“Ruben!” The dog turned to her. “Lead the way.”
Luther struggled to keep up with her. She was fast and strong, and he was cramped from his position in the chair.
He shook his head. The voice was the same. Her general height and size were right, but he was having difficulty seeing Deena in her.
Gunshots, several shotgun blasts, sounded nearby.
Deena said, “I don’t know how long the door will hold. We have to get out of here.”
“Is my car nearby?”
“I didn’t see it.” She shifted the unresponsive Katy on her shoulder.
Ruben had run ahead and was trying to tear the arm off a guard.
“What did they do with it? It was here. I heard it’s engine.”
“Cha cha,” Deena said. She paused at the corner and tried to peer around.
“What?” He moved ahead of her. “The way looks clear.”
“That’s what Ruben heard. Something ‘car’ and ‘cha cha’.”
“You heard through his ears?”
She nodded. “And looked through his eyes. That’s how I knew where you were.” They dashed up the slope to the garage level.
Luther checked the garage. There were three cars, but all were blocked in by a black limousine parked sideways.
“We’ll have to take this one.” He grabbed the driver’s door. The keys were in the ignition. “Of course. Who would steal from Leo Drye?”
He helped with the door. They laid Katy on the broad seat in the back. Deena got inside with her.
“Can you drive one of these?” she asked.
“Yes.” He wasn’t about to admit he didn’t know.
The engine started.
“Wait! I have to release Ruben.”
She called, “Ruben!” He came to her. She held his face in her hands for just a moment.
He yelped, turned to face the security office, and then ran back as fast as he could.
“No! Ruben! Come back.”
“Deena! Get in the car, now!”
Just then, there was an earsplitting crack. “Look out!” she screamed from surprise. Dust shook free from everywhere on the property. Luther didn’t know what was happening, but he put his foot on the accelerator.
Deena pulled her head in and closed the door.
He was a hundred yards down the road when he realized it wasn’t an earthquake.
The giant pillars that supported the main house had shattered, and the house was collapsing down the slope.
The security office was the first to be pancaked by the immense weight of the building.
Luther started to get a feel for the long vehicle, and already reached Topanga Canyon Boulevard when he realized Deena was crying in the back.
“Deena?” He stopped the car. “Are you hurt?”
She shook her head. She wiped aside her tears.
“Ruben,” she explained. “When I told the nanobots inside him to self-destruct, he suddenly realized his master was in trouble. He went back in to help him.”
“Oh.” Luther had no warm feelings for the Rottweiler, but Deena had made contact.
“Come on and get up here with me. We have to make plans. I don’t trust Leo Drye to be dead even if you did drop a house on him. We have to get out of town. We have to get Katy to a hospital.”
Deena nodded. “Give me a few minutes with her. I may be able to help. Why don’t you just head out of town?”
He nodded. “I wish I knew what happened to my car.”
“They took it to a ‘cha cha’.”
Something about the way she pronounced it struck a chord. “Deena, could Ruben have heard ‘chop shop’?”
“Yes. What’s a chop shop?”
He turned back to the steering wheel, gripping it tightly. Angrily he said, “It’s a place where they disassemble stolen cars. They can make more money from the parts than the whole car.
“Dad gave me that car!”
Down hill, there were several cars pulled off the side of the road. The collapsed swimming pool on the Drye property had spilled thousands of gallons of water down the slope, washing mud and vegetation across the road. People were pointing up at the carnage, now on fire from some ruptured gas pipes.
Luther pushed onward. The wheels slipped a little but he was quickly past it.
I should have gone toward the valley, but I’m not going back.
The limo was handling well. On highways, there was no problem at all.
From behind him, Deena gasped. He didn’t need to ask what had triggered it.
A glance in the mirror showed her leaning over Katy, tears in her eyes as she viewed the bloody horror that had been her face.
“Thompson did this?”
“Yes. They made me watch.”
“To get some information. I gave it to them. I couldn’t hold out.”
She repositioned Katy on the seat, fastening seat belts around her so she wouldn’t roll off.
“Coming up.” She slid through the privacy window opening and settled into the seat beside him.
Luther asked, “Do you think she’ll survive?”
She nodded. “I gave her some nanobots. They’ll repair most of the damage.” It was a solemn prognosis.
“But?” He could hear her reservations.
She rubbed her eye. “Something like that. The trauma must have been....”
“I was there. They drugged her to stop the screaming.”
“I don’t think nanobots can fix something like that.”
“Time and forgetfulness.”
She nodded. Then she asked, “Luther, you read a lot. Do you know how memory works? The guts of it, down in the cells?”
He sighed. “Not enough. Do you think you could erase her short-term memory?”
Dark-eyed Deena seemed lost in thought. “I can tell them to try.”
“You can talk to the nanobots now?”
She shrugged. “I talk. Sometimes they listen. They never talk back.
“But Luther, talk to me. Is it something I should try? Monkeying with someone’s memories is disturbing. Sometimes I think memories are all a person has.”
Luther couldn’t look at her. The traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway was bad and getting worse.
“Do it. Katy’s only future is nightmares. If you can heal her face, okay, but the only way we can get Katy back is to blunt those memories.
“She’s family now. Try it.”
Deena nodded and slipped back through the window.
He blinked his eyes clear.
Get a grip on yourself! We won’t be clear of this until we get L.A. behind us, and maybe not even then.
And I’m the only one who can drive.
In the mirrors, he saw another black limo going the other way. For this town, they were in the perfect getaway vehicle. There were so many of these black limos that people ignored them.