Taryn could barely concentrate as Beckham talked about the Voice, the unjustness of its plight, the need it had for a new home, the disdain it had for humans and how it was going to help Beckham and Taryn colonize a new world, take it for their own. Her head was aching with the strain of keeping the Voice from taking her over.
“We will be happy, Taryn. No one will struggle. No one will age or die. All the secrets of the universe will be ours and all it will take is all of us giving into the Voice,” Beckham finished. His face was pulled into a grimace of excitement.
Taryn felt ill. She put her head in her hands. The Voice was singing along with Beckham’s wild words.
“I don’t-” she started.
“Feel well? Yes. The voice can do that. Sit. It will pass,” Beckham said with something close to tenderness.
She fell heavily into one of the plush arm chairs. She swallowed hard against the rising bile in her throat. Beckham sat across from her, eyes wild. He was a changed man. The coolness and formal-ness that had always pervaded him had been replaced by a wild excitement that made a bottomless pit appear in her stomach.
“What is it saying to you, Taryn?” Beckham asked in a hushed tone.
Taryn’s dark eyes met his light ones. She wanted to go home, to Earth. See her parents again. Walk on what soft, green grass remained, hear the pounding of the waves of the destroyed oceans, look up in the sky and only see the dim moon, obscured by years of pollution and grime. She did not want to talk about voices and music and new worlds. This adventure had been too much for her.
“Taryn?” He asked again, his voice soft but insistent.
Outside the door, she could hear the mechanical sound of the ship’s alarm.
On another part of the ship . . .
Pearce hurried to the control room. He had barely entered his code when the doors slid open with a soft hiss.
“I need you to sound the alarm in the part of the ship Beckham’s in. Now!” Pearce said desperately.
“Why?” Captain Aaron said in a guarded tone. Pearce knew that he didn’t like him, but honestly did not care right now.
“He’s got Taryn. Just sound it. I’ll make something up. I’ll say its space gas. Deadly, deadly space gas and they need to leave.”
“No one’s going to believe you,” Captain Aaron said. He was already entering in the alarm codes.
“I don’t care!” Pearce said.
“Do it quickly. People will realize it’s a hoax pretty quick,” Captain Aaron said.
Pearce didn’t answer. He ran down the corridors, past Cassidy and Ellis, until he reached Richmond. Other passengers were milling about with tense, worried looks on their faces.
“Space gas! It’ll kill you. Everyone’s got to go. The Captain’s going to lock off the corridor,” Pearce panted when he reached Richmond.
The nearby passengers had heard him and their panicked cries of “Space gas!” could be heard echoing throughout the corridor. Richmond gave Pearce a hard look.
“Seriously. You wanna die of space gas poisoning? You want to let Beckham die of space gas poisoning?”
Richmond nodded and opened the door.
Taryn was sitting in an armchair. Beckham stared at her intently. Pearce thought he looked different, wilder, but in the blink of an eye, he appeared as calm and collected as always.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Space gas leak. The captain’s evacuating this section of the ship,” Pearce said as calmly as he could.
“Fine. Come on, Taryn. We’ll finish our conversation elsewhere.” Beckham said yanking Taryn to her feet. Taryn flinched at his touch.
“Sorry, the captain wants her. Says he needs help,” Pearce said.
“Tell him to wait until I’m done with her,” Beckham replied, his voice becoming dangerously quiet.
“No, Beckham. It’s fine. I’ll be back soon,” Taryn said gently, putting a hand on Beckham’s arm.
To Pearce’s surprise, Beckham relaxed. He released Taryn and nodded curtly.
“Let’s go. Now.” Pearce said.
No one argued and he managed to loose Beckham and Richmond in the crowd of fleeing passengers.
“You okay?” he asked Taryn.
“I’m fine. I knew what I was doing,” she replied.
“Oh. I was worried about you.”
“Space gas isn’t even a real thing, is it?”
Pearce shook his head. Taryn softened.
“Captain Aaron wants to see you.” Pearce told her.
“You two shouldn’t get involved. It’s my problem.”
“Hey. Where Beckham is concerned, it’s everyone’s problem.”
“Let’s go, then.” Taryn said.
When they reached the control room, Taryn told them everything. It was becoming increasingly clear that they needed to do something about Beckham and the Voice.
The three of them talked for hours. A plan was formed. Taryn would stay close to Beckham. Pearce would do his best to turn the tide against Beckham. Captain Aaron would reach their new home as quickly as he could. Once there, Taryn thought they’d stand a better chance fighting Beckham. The Voice screamed at Taryn the entire time they planned. She was slowly become accustomed to the splitting headache ignoring it gave her.
When they left, Cassidy was waiting outside for Pearce. Ellis wasn’t there. Pearce had never seen either of them alone before.
“Space gas was you’re idea, wasn’t it?” she asked.
“Ellis and Beckham don’t give you enough credit,” she said gently. Then she took a deep breath and started speaking with a fierceness Pearce had never heard before. “I want in. I hate Beckham. I hate what he’s doing to Ellis. I know the three of you are planning something. You don’t even have to tell me what. I just want him gone.”
“Fine. Welcome aboard,” he said with a smirk.
“So. How are we going to take Beckham down?”
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