Chapter 27

Caputi ran down the stairs to the basement and to the tram station. Without even looking at the two guards, he entered the station and programmed it to take him to the spaceport. When he reached the spaceport, he noticed Duke standing just inside the station. He paused just for an instant on his way to the floor of the hangar. He immediately went straight to his ship and fired up the engines. Just before he maneuvered the ship into the launch tube, he happened to glance out the window. He saw Bettino's image standing on the catwalk. Bettino smiled and waved to Caputi before slowly disappearing. Caputi moved his ship into the launch tube. Within seconds, he was hurtling through the night sky toward space.

Wilma rushed down the corridor. Just before she reached the door, it opened and Buck exited into the hallway. Wilma couldn't stop herself fast enough and she bowled right into him, sending both to the floor. Sharese and Varek stepped over to help them both to their feet.

"We have a problem," Wilma said excitedly.

"What is it?" Buck asked.

"Caputi is getting away! He's going to the spaceport!"

Sharese grinned and shook her head. "That's exactly what I wanted him to do."

Wilma narrowed her eyes and pulled her gun. "You intended for him to get away all along?"

She shook her head again. "He's not getting away. There is a fleet of Earth Directorate ships waiting for him."

"Why?"

"Because I called them," she smiled broadly. "I informed your directorate of my plan to get Caputi off Edenbridge. They jumped at the opportunity to apprehend him in neutral space."

"But I saw Bettino in the office, but Varek said it wasn't him."

Sharese smiled as she started walking down the hall. "Just a little optical illusion I set up to scare him. Come with me and I'll show you how I did it."

Buck and Varek followed Sharese down the hall leaving Wilma standing by the doorway. She simply stood there for a moment before rushing to catch up.

Caputi inputted a set of coordinates into the ship's navigational console and headed toward the stargate. Suddenly an alarm sounded. He looked down at the radar and swore.

"Barrett Caputi," sounded a voice over the radio. "This is Earth Directorate Cruiser Mithras. You are ordered to surrender immediately or you will be fired upon. This is your only warning."

Caputi slammed his control stick to the maximum setting and the ship lurched forward. Suddenly an explosion sounded behind him and the ship began to slow its forward momentum. Before he knew it, he was being pulled backward. In frustration, he let go of all the controls and sat back in his seat.

The ship was pulled into the hangar bay of the large ship. Doctor Huer stepped onto the hangar floor, followed by Twiki and Doctor Theopolis. Huer held up an object that looked remarkably like a walkie talkie.

"Barrett Caputi, this is Doctor Huer of the Earth Defense Directorate. You are hereby ordered to surrender and exit your ship unarmed."

He picked up his microphone. "Or what? You can't kill me! I have a personal shield!"

"Yes, we know about your shield. My question to you is how much food and water do you have on board?"

"Why?"

Huer shrugged and grinned slightly. "Because we can wait as long as it takes until you either pass out or surrender. My guess is that you didn't have much time to load too many supplies onboard before you left."

Caputi started to say something until he realized that Huer probably wasn't bluffing. He set the microphone down and opened the hatch to the ship. Slowly he left the ship and climbed down to the hangar floor. Two soldiers stepped up to him and clasped his hands behind his back. Caputi looked at Huer and sighed.

"So how did you manage to get Sharese to work for you?"

"We didn't," Theo answered. "She called us."

He shook his head and sighed again. "Your Captain Rogers must really be something," he muttered.

"Why do you say that?" Huer asked.

"Anyone who can get to Sharese and make her go straight like he did is really something."

"Beep-be-de-de-beep: you better believe it, bub."

Twiki turned to face the two soldiers behind Caputi. "Beep-be-de-de-beep: book him, Danno."

(change in scene)

Sharese had just finished showing them her setup, including the multiple holographic imagers, when the communications console beside the computer on the desk sounded. Wilma stepped up to the monitor and activated it. Doctor Huer's face appeared on the screen.

"Ahh, Colonel Deering. Good work. Barrett Caputi has been apprehended. He hasn't given us any information yet, but he will once we reach the labs in the Directorate. Is Buck there?"

Buck stepped up to the screen. "Right here, Doc."

"Were you able to remove the handcuff?"
He raised his left arm to show the screen. "Yep. I'm a single man again."

Sharese stepped up beside Buck. "Not exactly. We are still legally married, you know."
Doctor Huer grinned. "I can start the paperwork as soon as I get back to my office. I can have the divorce proceedings in order and ready for you to sign in two days. I'll have yours ready too, Colonel. Speaking of which, where is Major Danton?"

"He's at the spaceport," Wilma answered.

"Very good. I'll see you back on Earth."

"Beep-be-de-de-beep: take it easy, Buck!"

The screen went blank. Wilma turned to Buck. "Well, are you ready to go?"

"What's the rush?" Sharese asked. "We're not due back for two more days."

"That's true, Wilma," Buck agreed. "You're always saying that you never get to take a real vacation. You still have the rest of your reservation at the resort to finish. It's already paid for."

She grinned. "What about you? You checked out."

Sharese held out her hands. "We have this whole house we can use. I have first dibs on the hot tub."

"Where's the hot tub?" Buck asked.

She shrugged. "I don't know, but it has to have one somewhere."

"I have a question," came a voice from the corner of the room.

Everyone turned to look at Varek who was still kneeling, inspecting one of the holographic imagers that Sharese had set up. "What?" she asked.

"I just finished checking all the imagers you had set up."

"Yeah, so?"

He shook his head. "They were all turned off."

She cocked her head. "That's impossible. I turned them on myself."

He shrugged one shoulder. "Maybe so, but every single imager was turned off. And what's more; the energy usage gauge still shows one hundred percent… on all of them. These imagers were never used."

Buck and Wilma turned to look at Sharese. Her eyes narrowed.

"If the imagers were turned off and Varek was incapacitated by the blast from the factory," Wilma started. "Then who did I see punch Caputi in the face and send to the spaceport?"

Everyone looked at everyone else unsurely. Buck finally turned on his heels and headed for the door. "Where are you going?" Sharese asked.

He stopped ever so briefly to turn and look behind him. "I don't know about you guys, but I'm outa here. I'll meet you all at the spaceport."

Sharese and Wilma exchanged unsure glances.

"Wait up," they said in unison.

Varek watched them quickly leave the room. Slowly he rose to his feet and grinned ever so slightly.

THE END