There’d been a picture of Sarah. And below that, one short sentence.


He’d also caught a glimpse of the names Jackson and Bryson. But one word had stuck out. Accomplices.

Now they were all fugitives.

Chapter 12: Broken Bricks

Sarah leaned forward and looked back at Michael in a way that only he could see her face. Then she mouthed the words What is wrong with you? The hovercar banked to the left, making him lean into her. He wanted to grab her and pull her into a fierce hug. They just seemed to be getting deeper and deeper into trouble. A dreary sorrow tried to melt his chest.

Sarah raised her eyebrows, waiting for an answer. Bryson watched them both, too smart to say anything but fidgeting in his seat.

Michael knew they couldn’t keep going with this cop. They couldn’t let him take them to the police station, book them, arrest them, whatever they would do. A runaway cyber-terrorist, a kidnapper—probably suspected of murder. Who knew what they’d tag Bryson for. But it didn’t matter. The police wanted the two boys as accomplices anyway. Everything was about to fall apart to a point where it could never be put together again.

“I’m going to throw up,” he suddenly yelled toward the front of the car. “My stomach. I’m about to puke, take us down!”

“We’re almost there,” the cop answered, glancing in the rearview mirror. “Hold yourself together a few seconds longer.”

Michael knew he had the pale face to go along with his story. “I’m serious! Please! You’ve gotta let me out of this thing!”

“Wow,” the man said, his voice somewhere between annoyed and amused. “That’s one magical stomach you got there. Just happens to go south right before the terrorist and his murdering friends get booked into jail.”

So much for keeping anything secret.

“I’m not lying,” Michael replied helplessly. Even he could hear the defeat in his voice.

“Just hold tight back there. You can do all the throwing up you desire once you’re settled in a nice comfy cell.”

Sarah had been looking back and forth between them and Bryson like she was watching a tennis match, her face filled with confusion. “Murdering friend? What’re you talking—Michael, what is he talking about?”

Panic was just around the corner, lurking for Michael. “I saw something on his visor display. They’re accusing you in your parents’ missing persons case. And saying Bryson and I helped you.”

Sarah’s face drained of color, and Bryson punched the seat in front of him.

“Calm down back there!” the cop yelled. “You want to commit big-boy crimes, then get ready for big-boy punishment. Now shut up, not another word. It’s up here on the right.”

Buildings zoomed by on either side of the hovercar as they approached an old, crumbling brick structure. Its windows were covered with grime, and it looked as welcoming as every other city police station in the world.

“I just might get a bonus for this,” the cop said through a chuckle. “Get those hair plugs I’ve been hoping for.”

The car slowed, the front end tilting upward a bit to catch some drag. They swung around the building to the far side, where a door several levels up was sliding open, bright lights shining within. The cop maneuvered his controls and the car moved toward the landing slot.

Michael looked at the opening. It was like a yawning mouth that wanted to swallow them whole. And it wasn’t just their lives on the line. Not many people knew what Kaine was up to—what he truly was up to. If they were locked up, the Tangent would be free to do it all. A powerful sense of fright almost overwhelmed Michael, making it hard for him to breathe.

He wasn’t going with this cop. He wasn’t. Every rational part of his brain shut down in that moment, and pure, fiery, wild instinct took over.

Throwing his body forward, he reached through the small opening in the gate between the front and back seats and grabbed the cop’s helmet, pulling it toward him. Then he twisted, yanking with all his strength, as if he were trying to rip the guy’s head clean off. The back of the man’s helmet banged against the glass directly behind him and he yelled, a strangled sound full of pain.

“You piece of—” the man started to say, but the words were cut off by a sharp cry as Michael put his whole body into it, jerking the helmet left and right. The cop gave up trying to keep the steering wheel under control, his hands flying back to grab Michael’s arms. The man clawed and scratched, but Michael was in a frenzy, an all-out attack. His stomach suddenly flew toward the sky when the hovercar pitched to the left and started to plummet.

“Grab the wheel!” he yelled at Sarah, but there was no way she could get past him in the small gap between the open glass doors.

He held on to the man’s helmet, sure it would break his neck at any second. Michael planted his feet on the backseat, then pushed off, diving through the opening so that he landed on the floor of the front cabin. The cop fell with him, his body slipping out of its seat belt and landing on top of Michael. Outside the windows, the world was spinning, buildings at odd angles and the blue sky flashing in turn with gray steel and glass.

“Now!” Michael yelled. “Grab the wheel!”

Sarah was already climbing through the opening, reaching forward. Bryson helped, lifting and pushing her. Michael wrestled with the cop, terrified that he’d somehow get his gun free and start firing. Someone would come after them soon—surely the falling police vehicle had been noticed at the station.

Sarah grabbed the steering wheel just as the cop got a hand free and punched Michael in the face. Pinpricks of light exploded before his eyes. He gripped the lower section of the man’s visor and yanked fiercely. It flew up and something cracked, though it didn’t come free.

The cop’s face was creased in fury. “You must be the stupidest …,” he started to say, but the whole universe seemed caught in a cyclone, everything spinning. Michael looked at Sarah, hoping she could gain control.

She tugged at the wheel wildly, leaning into it with her full weight, trying to steady things. But the car kept swerving, tilting, at last shooting upward. A horrible scream of engines vibrated the windows. Sarah’s tongue was pinched between her lips; strain filled her eyes.

There was a terrible crunching sound just as Michael slammed forward into the bottom of the dashboard. The world shook as windows broke and metal screeched on metal and the noise of crumbling brick filled the air.