“Super soldiers.” Maria pushed her idea while she pushed up her glasses, and Emily knew there was merit in the idea but it did not help them identify the perpetrators.
“Most likely,” Emily said. She sounded like Lisa. She ran a hand through her hair to compensate. “But there is something else going on here, too.”
After class, Maria brought the latest notes to Professor Hilde. It outlined the information gathered so far on the two football players. Professor Hilde seemed in a pleasant mood. Emily thought he was always pleasant, and such a nice man. She felt sorry that he was disabled, but she said nothing because she knew he did not need her sympathy. Besides, he never acted or sounded like he had a disability.
“You know,” the professor said as he looked at the two girls. “It must be nice to be young and strong. Do enjoy it while you can.”
“Yes, sir.” Emily smiled.
“We will,” Maria said. “And thanks for your help with this.” Both girls felt good about things as they left, even if they were as much in the dark as ever.
Emily could not help speaking up. “I have a feeling we will be getting some answers very soon.”
Very soon turned out to be Thursday after lunch. Tom, Jessica and Maria were walking Emily over to drop her off at ROTC, a route that took them right past the science building. Amina yelled as she came rushing up to the group.
Emily heard a thump by her feet. She instinctively shoved everyone back into the bushes even as Owen ran up.
“Emily. They are going to kill you.”
Emily’s first thought was to separate from her friends to put them out of danger. The only way she could reasonably do that was to make a dash for the science building. A half-dozen shots hit the ground around her as she ran, but she could outrun the average runner. The door slowed her down. While she yanked on it, a bullet creased her leg. She dove into the building and ran into the first classroom. The lab room had front windows.
Her second thought was how did Owen know? She might be starting to understand Amina. The girl had a very special gift, but Owen?
She found a white lab coat and tore it in a long strip to wrap her leg. Her eyes peered out at the lawn. Students walked by, unaware of what was happening because the gunmen had silencers. She could not tell that anything was happening by looking, until she spied four older men dressed like students talking and staring at the building. One of the men pointed to the building and two began to walk casually in her direction.
Emily wasted no time. She took three lighters used to light Bunsen burners and quickly taped them to the floor where the door would open and make them spark. She shut the door and opened every gas line in the lab room, wide. She kicked the screen from the side window and closed the window behind her on her way out.
By the time the men arrived, some alarm had started going off. Emily ignored it. She was already sneaking through the bushes and did not even flinch when there was an explosion in that room. The two men that were still outside looked up, surprised. Emily got to surprise them more.
Disarming them seemed easy enough. The close one held his gun loosely. She managed to knock it to the ground and knock him away. The other still had his gun holstered. She had to tackle him and rip the gun free. It ended up flying into the bushes, but then since she sat on top she had the leverage to give him one good punch.
She rolled off and clawed at the gun that was in the dirt, but the other man had gotten up and began to go after the same thing. They fought on their knees and with their shoulders until Emily managed to push forward. Her fingers touched the weapon, but she found herself grabbed from behind and it stopped her forward progress. She yelled for strength. Owen, Maria, Amina and Jessica tried to pull the man off her while Tom landed his football best on the one she had punched. The man let Emily go, but Maria got a fist, Amina ducked, Owen ended up in the bushes and Jessica found her rump in the mud. The one Tom flattened put up a struggle.
Emily grabbed the gun even as the man turned to run and the other man got to his feet to run as well, having violently pushed Tom off. Emily fired twice. Both men went down when the bullets struck their legs. One stayed on the ground, but the other got up and tried to limp off so Tom had to tackle him again.
Pierce came up at that point and Emily tossed him the gun. She felt determined to get some answers this time before the police or firefighters or Bernie the campus cop arrived and took over. She completely forgot about the two in the building.
Pierce saw them. One staggered, but the other went for his weapon. Pierce fired first. It went straight to the heart and the man spun and died on his way to the ground. The other looked up, dropped his gun and threw his hands into the air.
Pierce did not waver in holding his gun on the man but spoke to Emily. “I came to tell you someone attacked Professor Swenson.” He took a breath. “She is fine but says she has some information for you.”
“Bernie!” Emily’s voice was full of ROTC leadership. Bernie came up huffing and puffing. She took the gun from Pierce’s hand, put it in Bernie’s hand, and spoke again. “Tom, Owen, beat some truth out of these men before the police get here. Amina and Jessica, listen carefully to what they say. I want to know who hired and sent them. Maria, you’re with me. Oh, we need to find some ice. Looks like you might get a good black eye.” She added the comment before she turned to Pierce. “Lead the way.”
Pierce smiled broadly. “I like it when you get all commanding,” he said. Emily did not know what to say, but she did not have to speak as Pierce turned and trotted off and Maria and Emily had to keep up.
They found Swenson on the other side of the science building by the construction mess, sitting on a bench that had not yet been removed. The professor, red faced, needed the air. Doctor Zimmer sat with her and patted her hand. He looked very uncomfortable.
Emily’s first words were, “Are you alright?” but as soon as Professor Swenson nodded Emily added, “What did you find out?”
“Frederick and your young Mister Davis saved my life.” Professor Swenson put her hand to her chest and breathed as deeply as she could.
“The young man who attacked her had a gun,” Doctor Zimmer said between pats, an activity he stopped as soon as Maria sat on Professor Swenson’s other side and took her other hand. Professor Swenson turned her head and smiled at Maria.
“I got lucky,” Pierce volunteered before Emily asked. “It was one of your ROTC freshmen, I believe.”
Emily looked Pierce in the eyes and the first thing that came to her mind was Terrence carefully examining her work on that first night outside the library. He watched when the geeks invaded the TKE house. He also stood around outside the sorority house. He said helping was not his job. And the freshmen answered to Lieutenant Terrence. But murder?
“I have to go,” Emily said suddenly. She backed away. “Take care of her and Maria, get that information.” She ran.