Penny licked her lips, and then called out in a clear voice, "Saltonstall, please call that number I gave you before. You remember the one, the one I didn't tell you what it was? Well it is Colonel Throckmorton of the USSF. Tell him everything that you have heard Dr. Anselm say. Did you understand me, Saltonstall?"
Anselm looked at her, his face one of sudden shock. Obviously he had forgotten that the radio was still online. He had forgotten that Everett could hear everything that was said between them. Thibaudet wanted to holler with joy at seeing Anselm crushed so easily. Still, they were probably going to become werewolves, but now at least he had the satisfaction of knowing that Anselm was not going to get away with this, but he would be responsible for threatening to kill a United States military officer. Then again, his rank would probably make that impossible, but still that look on his face was pretty nice to see.
"I understand you, Lieutenant." Saltonstall's voice was nervous. He must have been biting his nails all the while he had listened in on the conversation. Thibaudet beamed at the stunned Anselm.
Much to his disgust though, Anselm quickly recovered, "Just what is that going to accomplish, Lieutenant? Do you really think that you can have me prosecuted?" He now wore a veneer of condescension. Pierre found that he preferred him this way; it gave him a reason to hate him even more.
"At least then everybody will know the truth," Penny came back. "Then you can't just have us locked up in some laboratory and examined forever. Throckmorton will stop that. Once the truth is out, then you and your kind, you Hasmoneans, will have nowhere else to go."
Anselm then did something very odd. He started laughing. He just laughed, his eyes kept firmly on the both of them, but he laughed nonetheless. He slapped one knee with his left hand; he could not control his mirth. Thibaudet did not see what was so funny, and it had obviously confused Penny as well. "You don't have a clue what's going on do you? Everybody on Earth already knows there are werewolves on this ship! Everybody already knows!"
"Then... what is this all about?" Penny's voice was much less sure of herself this time. "And how did you do it, you were locked in your research station the whole time?"
Anselm winked at her, "Who said I was working alone?"
Penny stared at him for a minute, her jaw hanging lose. She then peered over at the radio. "Saltonstall! So that is what you did! You've been spying on us all along! You're the one who smashed the security office. You are the one who framed Dr. Bowman for it. Nobody could say where you were. Bowman though you were in your room the whole time. It should have been clear to me before this. Rhodes mentioned that he hadn't seen any of the scientists in their rooms when he had last left the security office. Tembo was still alive then. You waited till Tembo went to investigate what was going on down in the engine room, where Kilpatrick had holed himself away. He dies, and Kilpatrick runs about. You manage to slip down there, steal Tembo's yellow passcard, and then go and wreak havoc in the security office. But first, you got the access codes didn't you? Didn't you Saltonstall?" Her voice was like fire, and she nearly was screaming at the radio. Thibaudet was shocked. It had fit all together in one piece. How could they have been so foolish to trust Saltonstall? He had just popped in out of nowhere knowing the right frequency. That should have been enough to tip them off that something was wrong. And now, that was all gone too.
Saltonstall's voice reluctantly replied, "Yes. That was me."
Anselm smiled, "You see. There is nothing you can do. Now, walk to the blast door."
Thibaudet did not feel like losing. Not now. He still had one thing left that he could try. "I don't think so."
"Then I'm afraid I'll have to kill you. Are you sure you won't go?" Anselm seemed a bit down about that, his voice sounding regretful. It had to be an act. There was no other way about it.
"Absolutely. Of course, I'm not worried about killing me."
Anselm leveled the gun at Thibaudet's head, "Oh, why not?"
Thibaudet did his best to smile as broadly as he could. It was a slim chance, but they had to take it. He hoped that Penny would know what to do. Her attention was riveted to the both of them, her eyes questing after something, but they always had Anselm in their view. Sounding as self--congratulatory as possible, Pierre enjoyed taunting him. "Because, I know something that you don't."
For the first time, Anselm seemed genuinely unsure of himself. Thibaudet kept the smile on his face, despite the fact that he wanted to bolt and get away from this mad man. He could decide to pull the trigger and that might be then end of him. He did not know how many bullets were left in that gun, but he was counting on the fact that Anselm didn't know either. "What is it?" Anselm asked, pointing the gun directly at him, arm completely extended.
"Well, you see that was Captain Rhodes's gun, and he gave it to me when he knew that he was going to be a werewolf. Right after he shot Lapwolf in fact. I have carried it until now because he gave it to me. I must admit I'm kind of miffed that you stole it."
"That better not be what you had to say. You realize you are wasting time." Anselm replied quiet testily.
"Oh, don't worry, I'm not trying to take the honour away from you. You, Dr. Frederick Anselm, clearly hold the honour in conversational evasion." Thibaudet may die from this, but he could not remember a single time in his life where he had enjoyed taunting anybody so much.
"Get to the point."
"Oh I will. I wouldn't want to take up anymore of your precious time." Thibaudet yawned effectively, and then smiled once more. "Now, as I said, I've had that gun for a while. It has seen a lot of use."
Thibaudet took a quick glance and saw that Penny knew in part what he was trying to do. He then leaned forward a bit, "That gun has no bullets in it."
Anselm's face fell, and the shock of hearing the pronouncement was clearly effective. It was obvious that the psychologist did not know how many bullets were left, and Pierre's assertion that there were none left had clearly frazzled him. Anselm broke eye contact with them for just a split second, his left hand pulling the stopper on the gun back so that he could see into the chamber. It was long enough. Penny charged into him the moment his eyes strayed. Thibaudet ducked out of the way of the gun, not wanting to take the chance that it was actually loaded. Penny slammed her fist into Anselm's gut, and Frederick doubled over, gasping for breath. The gun fell to the ground, sliding down the hallway. Thibaudet saw Penny struggling with the man's arms, and raced after the weapon.
Pierre felt somebody grab his leg, and he tripped, falling hard into the floor, his arms shielding his face from the impact. He tried to twist about, but the grip on his leg was too strong, and he couldn't quite reach the gun. Turning his head as far as he could, he saw Anselm with on hand on his leg, kicking at the crumpled form of Penny. What had he done to her? Thibaudet used his other leg, and kicked at Anselm's arm as hard as he could. Anselm let go immediately, cradling his arm as he stood back up. Penny was crawling up to her feet slowly, her chest heaving, and her face stained with mud from Anselm's shoe.
Pierre turned back around, and snatched up the gun in one hand. He darted as far back as he could, because he could see Anselm chasing after him. Pulling back on the stopped, he peered into the chamber. It was empty. In an ironic twist of fate, the gun had been empty. Tossing it to the side as useless he saw Anselm's fist flying towards him. It smacked into his chin, sending him sprawling against the blast door. His head smashed into, nearly cracking his skull with the pain. Penny came up behind Anselm, one arm held over her abdomen. Anselm backhanded her, sending her sprawling back down the corridor.
Thibaudet tried to kick the man, but then realized that he was not the most proficient in hand to hand fights. Anselm sidestepped the kick, and grabbed his shirt collar and yanked him forward, sending him sprawling back down the hallway. Pierre was quick to get up though, running a bit past Penny, who was slowly coming to her feet; it was obvious the psychologist had been hitting her harder than him. Anselm grabbed her by her hair, and pulled her to her feet, and tossed her back towards Thibaudet. Pierre grabbed her arms, and stopped her from going any farther.
"Anselm, please, we can talk about this!" Thibaudet insisted. He never realized just how strong the man was. Anselm was beating them into a pulp!
Suddenly, Anselm did a quick jump in the air, and kicked Pierre square in the chest with the sole of his shoe. Pierre fell backwards, while Penny darted to the side, trying to get out of his way. Anselm beat her to it, slapping her across the face again. She fell backward, crashing against the wall. Pierre tried to back up, but his back was already against the wall next to the console anyway. Anselm smashed his fist against his jaw again. Thibaudet was glad nothing was broken, but he was unbelievably sore. He felt his shirt collar grabbed again, and suddenly Anselm threw his head at the control panel next to the airlock.
Pierre tried to break Anselm's grip, but he got a knee in his stomach and was then sent hurtling through the opening airlock door. He crashed to the ground face first. He pushed himself up, turning over, and saw that Penny had kneed Anselm in the groin. Anselm's face contorted for one moment, and then he smashed his fist into her breast, and knocked her into the air lock as well. Anselm slammed his hand on the control panel, and the inner hatch closed. Pierre struggled to get to his feet. He could see through the pane at the top of the hatchway that Anselm was leaning against the console and typing something in. Then, Anselm got the most grotesque visage of pain on his face that Pierre ever recalled seeing. He kneeled down, one hand clutching his crotch, and the other holding onto the console for support.
Thibaudet reached the door, and pushed the green button. The door did not open. With a sudden start, he realized that Dr. Anselm had locked them in the airlock! Thibaudet turned to look at Penny. Aside from the swelling bruise on her face, she looked all right. There were no cuts or scratches on her at all. They were both lucky to have come out of that fight with only a few bruises. Taking a quick glance around, he saw a closed closet with several spacesuits stacked in a row. Behind them, the central hatch, and then the outer hatch into space itself, were both closed. He hoped and prayed that they stayed that way.
Through the channel between the rooms, they could hear Anselm's voice. "Ouch! Penny, that really hurt. Ouch." Anselm was still gasping in pain. For some reason, Pierre could not find it in him to feel sorry for this man. There was no remorse anymore, not for him. There could be none.
"What do you want Anselm?" Pierre asked, his anger hot once more.
"I already told you. I want the both of you to be werewolves." Anselm's voice was still a little strained as he got back to his feet. Penny had a self-satisfied smirk on her slightly purplish face.
"Or you'll kill us, yeah we heard."
Anselm nodded, "Please, I don't want to kill you."
"That's why you beat us up and tossed us in the airlock then right?"
"You gave me no choice!" Anselm insisted.
"What choice is being a werewolf or dying?"
"That choice is your choice." Anselm pressed a few buttons on the control panel. The middle hatch then opened up, and Pierre got a very terrible feeling in his gut. He looked over at the closet, and ran for it, and yanked the closet door open. Thankfully, it hadn't been locked yet.
"Touch one of those spacesuits, and the outer hatch will open instantly, Dr. Thibaudet. I am through fooling around. This is your last chance. Now, will you please hear me out." Anselm's voice was very caustic, and quite serious. Thibaudet dropped the sleeve of the suit he had been about to drag out to don. If he opened that outer hatch, they would be dead shortly thereafter. Oh, they would still be alive for at most a minute before the cold finally killed them and their blood all boiled away. Still, it was not a pleasant way to go, and they were running out of options. Perhaps they would have to consent to being werewolves after all. No! He would rather die than be a werewolf. Still, if Penny chose to live, what could he do to stop her?
Penny had gotten to her feet, and was staring defiantly back at him. "We will listen. But you better be convincing."
"I'll listen, but you be warned. I don't trust you." Thibaudet moved to Penny's side, glaring back at the man.
Anselm took a deep breath. "I don't expect either of you to trust me. Please believe me, I don't want to hurt either one of you. I can guarantee that you both will have happy lives as werewolves. You are not going to lose your minds."
"I saw what happened to Captain Rhodes. Don't you dare tell me that I'm going to be okay!"
"But you will be. I know for a fact that you will be perfectly fine. What will it take to prove it to you?" Anselm cried out. For some reason, Thibaudet found his supposed concern for them to be offensive. He was not going to listen to this man anymore. They were going to die, and that was that. Unless he could think of a way to get out of this place of course.
"A lot more than you can provide," Thibaudet shouted back. There had to be a way to escape the grisly fate of being ejected out into space. He just couldn't think of it!
"Lieutenant Lucille Penny, what will it take to prove it to you?" Anselm turned to face her, his own unmarred. Even the pain in his groin must have subsides at least a little bit.
Penny rubbed her cheek where he had kicked it. The dirt fell to the floor in clumps. Her eyes were like ice, gazing through the inner hatch as her teeth ground together with the pent up fury that she must have been feeling. To have her plan turned against her must have been a real shock. Of course, being only one doorway from death was also pretty mind numbing. "I don't know what it will take. But I doubt seriously that you have what it takes to convince me." Her voice was firm, yet Pierre could hear a certain reluctance in it. No, she didn't want to die. Neither did he, yet what choice did they have? Become a werewolf or die?
Anselm sighed and pushed a few more of the controls on the console. He then turned back to them. "I give you one last chance. Once I execute this command, the outer hatch will open in thirty seconds. If you bang on this door and confess your desire to be a werewolf, I will stop the countdown, and will release you. If you change your mind after I release you, I will kill you, and I will not give you another chance. This is the last one. After thirty seconds, if you don't bang on this door, well then you die when the outer hatch opens. I am through fooling around and asking you this. It is the last time. Will you just submit to being a werewolf?"
Thibaudet licked his lips, "Anselm, I make a promise to you now. The next time I see you, I am going to kill you. That's right, I am going to kill you the next time I see you. I am not joking either." He was amazed at how dangerous his own voice could be. He was not usually so calmly serious.
Anselm stared at him. "You have thirty seconds to decide." The psychologist's voice was equally tense and cold. This was a standoff that could only end in one or both of them dying.
Thibaudet watched him push the button. Immediately a mechanical male voice sounded, "Warning, the Outer Hatch has been unlocked. You have thirty seconds to vacate the outer airlock."
Thibaudet looked at Penny's face, "Well, I guess that's it."
Penny was staring past him her eyes curious. "Do you know a way back into the ship from outside?"
Thibaudet nodded, "Yeah, but we'd never make it without the spacesuits."
Penny smiled, "We can make it, we just need the boots." Thibaudet was still confused. He'd been prepared to die, and now Penny was doing something odd. Pierre looked to see if Anselm was watching. Thankfully the man had turned his back on them. For some reason, that annoyed him even further. Frederick was so sure of himself that he didn't feel he even had to watch them anymore. Of course, to put on a spacesuit would take at least two minutes. Why would he be worried?
Penny dragged two of the boots out. They were magnetic. Of course. Now it made sense, they could use the boots to run along the hull of the ship. If they were fast enough, they wouldn't die from the near absolute zero temperatures. Of course, it was not an easy distance, and he really had never done anything quite like it before. Oh he'd read of real events in which it had to be done, but never before had he even contemplated of doing it himself. And now here he was less than a day in space and already he was doing it. He was going to take an unprotected spacewalk.
They both slipped the boots on, and locked them in place, and then they each walked to opposite sides of the airlock, grabbing hold of the nearest supports. Penny looked to him, "Engage the magnets, you won't be able to hold on otherwise." She reached down and pressed a button on both boots, and her feet connected solidly with the wall. Thibaudet did the same, and found himself soon to be hanging sideways from the wall. He glanced back out the door. Anselm still had his back to them.
"Now, get all the air out of your lungs. Every last breath. We only have a few more seconds." Penny then began expending her breath, just pushing it out of her. Thibaudet breathed out through his nose, and then through his mouth. He lungs screamed out to him to take a breath, to just accept the air about him into his lungs, but he knew he couldn't. This was there only chance of survival, and a slim one at that. His brain was already feeling funny; he was not used to going without air. He clenched his mouth shut, making sure that his teeth were close together. He did not want to bite off his own tongue. His stomach cramped into his diaphragm, and his lungs were so tight his chest felt like it was going to crush itself. However, there was no choice.
He stared back at the doorway, letting his eyes close, for fear they would be ripped from the sockets when the hatch opened. Anselm had turned back around and was staring at them in shock. He must not have thought of it. However, he did not do anything, nor did he have the time. Thibaudet wondered if Anselm would have opened up the door to stop them and kill them personally with his bare hand if the outer hatch hadn't opened then. Once more, something that might have been, but the Hand of God moved, and it was not to be so.
The first thing that Thibaudet noticed when the hatch opened was a high pitched sucking, and the way his shirt and pants tugged at him. The hatch did not open quickly, it took a few seconds, but during that time he felt himself yanked and he had to shut his eyes tight. He kept his nose from trying to breathe in; there would be no air. The sudden blast of cold was so intense that it made him nearly let go of the handle bar. Indeed he was barely holding on as it was. Finally, once the pressure stopped, and his whole body was going numb, he let go of the bad, and squinted out. It was cold death.
He took careful steps on the boots as he moved towards the outside of the ship. For a brief moment a sudden though hit him. What if he had to walk through the sun? The radiation would surely kill him, or at the very least give him a very bad sunburn. However, they were facing the moon side, and those fears were quickly put to rest. Of course, his head pounded, his skin tingling in the cold emptiness of space. Penny was right behind him, and so Pierre took one look down the side of the hull, towards the back fins and the engine exhaust. He then ran, ran as fast as his legs and those boot could carry him along the ship.
How long would it take for him to die out here in the freezing chill of space? Thibaudet remember stories of people surviving for a minute without any protection. He did not imagine that he was going to be one of those people. The pain in his chest was intense. His heart was pounding so hard he felt as if he were going to explode. Every single blood vessel in his body was poking up through his skin, something that he did not see often at all. He had a hard time seeing anything at all, for fear that his eyes would freeze. He barely was squinting out at the ship. It passed by like a blur underneath his feet, yet still it seemed he did not get anywhere.
Of course, he could not hear anything. Never before in his life had there ever been such silence. Nothing came to his ears. He felt like they were going to explode. He remembered times when his family had gone up a mountain really fast his ears had popped. It had been a funny feeling back then. This was beyond painful. It was all he could do to keep moving. He wanted to pound his ears until the pain stopped or his head exploded. Yet he did not have the time. If Pierre did not make it to where he knew he needed to be, they would both die. He still had a promise to keep as well.
The freezing cold about him was making his skin go numb. He could barely feel his footsteps along the ship anymore. Through the tiny slits of his eyelids, he could see the huge moon, larger than he'd ever seen it before. It was indistinct wavy. There were bright spots flashing before it and scions of darkness. He was blacking out; he needed some air soon. His lungs ached and groaned, wanting to just open us his mouth and take a deep breath. Only, there would be nothing there, and he would die from it. Thibaudet grabbed a hold of the last bits of his consciousness and kept moving. He would be there at any moment; he just could not give up, not even for a brief second.
Finally Pierre saw what he had hoped he would see. His mark had been slightly off, but he ran up to in and looked inside. It was the chamber that he could swivel back and forth which contained his superconductive samples. Penny was right beside him; he knew it from her shadow falling across the object. Thibaudet wanted to scream from the agonizing pain. His ears were ready to explode and his eyes were like ice and his whole body was ready to crumble apart and explode. His blood was searing through his veins like molten lead and no longer could he stand it. Blindly his hand groped for the release lever to remove the sample. He knew it was somewhere on the right. Somewhere it was there.
Wish a brief moment of euphoria, Thibaudet found the switch. Yanking on it, the large metal bar was released from the restrains. He pushed it negligently out of the way and then slipped into the tiny alcove. It was going to be a tight fit, but it was better than dying out in the unforgiving cold of space. Penny slipped in beside him, crushing each other together. It was then that it dawned on him that there was no turning mechanism on this side of the research station. He wanted to kick himself, but he really didn't have anytime. He slammed his side into the wall, hoping to get it to turn manually. The device didn't budge, not even a bit.
Thibaudet felt his stomach cramping up, and he lost all feeling in his legs. He pushed again, throwing everything he had left into it. It did not move at all. He had to get inside o they both were going to die. He kept that in mind, even though the pain of his ears screamed loudly, and the feeling of his blood vessels bursting beneath his skin was almost enough for him to go into an epileptic fit. He slammed again, and once more it did not move. How long had he spent out here in space? It seemed an eternity of pain to him. However, it must have only been a few moments. Funny how time seemed to stretch off into forever when one was suffering.
Pushing one last time, Thibaudet finally felt the turnstile give way. Feeling as if he would die from the sheer fact that it moved more than anything else, he pushed again and the opening into space slowly slid out of view. He slammed again and again, till finally only the cold remained to remind them of the ordeal. The turnstile finally slid all the way back to its starting position. Thibaudet couldn't wait to take a breath of fresh air again. The glass case that was covering the turnstile would not be hard to open. However, as he peered out through half-closed lids, he noticed something startling. The entire room was thick with something green. Suddenly he remembered. The entire research facilities were filling up with Chlorine Gas. He had just walked out of one death trap and into another.
Saltonstall watched it all on the screen. He felt ill throughout his entire body. The things he'd been forced to admit to Penny. It was horrible. Yes he had done all of those things. He had been the one who had picked up the pieces after Tembo had fallen prey to the werewolf. They had suspected he might go and investigate by himself. In fact, they had counted on it. That let him sneak into the Security Office and do what he had to do there. One thing that he did not have when stepping on board this ship, the only thing he did not have, had been the security passcodes to access the computer systems. Now, he had almost complete control of the ship. Wisely, the navigational systems were on another system, one that could no be connected to the screen he was in. There was almost certainly going to be a lot of modifications done to the shuttle during future launches to prevent this from happening again.
The worst of it was not when he had to admit to what he had done, but when he saw the three of them fighting. Saltonstall paced back and forth, wishing that there was something that he could do. He had power over the ship, yet he still could do nothing for the people living inside it. What was worse was the he could hear everything that was being said and done. He wished that he could have turned the radio off, but he didn't dare touch it. He felt like he would gasp in pain if he didn't know what was being said, and yet at the same time, with each new word he found out that he would have rather not.
After the two had been sucked out into space. He turned away from the screen. Everett needed to throw up, and there was nowhere that he could do it. However, he heard Anselm's voice over the radio, and this time, he knew that Anselm was talking to him. "Did you call Colonel Throckmorton like Penny asked you?"
Saltonstall did not turn around. "No."
"I didn't think so. I need you to start scanning the ship for any possible way in or out." Anselm sounded worried.
"Because I think Penny knows a way into this ship that I don't."
"But you ejected her into space didn't you?"
Anselm sounded disgusted. "She and Thibaudet put on magnetic boots. They probably aren't going to survive, but I need to know if they made it back or not."
"Well, I guess they would come in an airlock."
"Already sealed all of them off. I think they knew I could do it too. No, I suspect Penny would have gone somewhere that I didn't know about. Probably on the first floor with the fuel tanks or what not. Check down there first. They should be coming in any second. If not, then they are probably dead. I need you to find them fast. They won't become werewolves willingly, and they know too much. We have to trap them. Now get to it." Anselm's voice wavered between determination and uncertainty the whole time. Everett wondered if something had happened that he didn't know about. Something that he had heard that had not come through the radio. Parts of the conversation had been awfully quiet. It was thinkable that some would not get broadcasted.
"I will get right to it."
"Good, I know I can count on you, Everett." Anselm then started muttering to himself. Saltonstall returned to sitting in front of the screen. He hated his job sometimes. When people died, that was when he hated it the most. Nobody was supposed to die. Everything was supposed to happen on the first try. Nobody was supposed to get hurt beyond his or her ability to recover. They were all supposed to be werewolves. Now Anselm was killing people, or trying to at least. Saltonstall turned the screen to the first floor, and began scanning through the shots. He had to control his hands to stop the shaking.
End Part XXV