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The officer set his rifle on the floor beside the dead physicist and reached over to shut his eyes. “We didn’t kill him, Bayer. It was an accident.” Halstead continued to stare down at the mask of death as he spoke. “Nice little party you’re having this evening.” Now he stood and smiled at Bayer, who had been shoved in the direction of the other five standing against the near side of the windows. “I’m glad my friends and I could make it.”

At that moment, three more camouflaged men entered the room through the hole of a doorway, two of them carrying a third by each arm, a man with blood splattered over the front of his parka and his limp head hanging on his chest. “How is he?” Halstead asked on behalf of the nine others who stood with their rifles trained on the remaining twelve scientists.

“He’s not gonna make it, Colonel.” The man who answered made a jerking motion with his head to his counterpart, and the pair eased their wounded comrade onto the floor beside Earhart’s corpse. The spokesman leaned down against the mouth of the wounded, much like Halstead had done with Earhart, then looked up at his commander with his entire face twitching in grief. “He done died, Colonel.”

While the casualty had been dragged to a lying position beside Earhart’s, a pair of Halstead’s men had entered the room beyond the glass and forced Wally’s remaining six colleagues out into the main room at gunpoint. On the way out, Judy was accosted by an arm around her shoulders and forcefully kissed by a leering member of Halstead’s party before being shoved into the main room with a laugh.

Halstead glared at his brutish follower, then looked at the prisoners standing opposite the pair of bodies. “We expected losses, men. All of you, except Bayer,” Halstead waved his M-16 casually in the direction of Wally’s remaining companions, “get outuv here. I would run if I were you, ‘cause we’re gonna blow this entire complex within a matter of minutes.”

Judy’s hand was on Wally’s arm as the others started for the single exit. “Come on—”

“No, I said all except Bayer, Miss. He stays behind to help us out. Get out of here, before you join your professor on the floor there.”

Alternity, Chapter I:

1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 7/ 8/ 9/ 10/ 11/ 12/ 13/ 14/ 15/ 16/ 17/ 18/ 19/ 20/ 21/ 22/ 23

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