A few hours had changed her life completely. Alicia had gone from a good, helpful head of a department in a huge company to being accused of terrorism . . . and now wearing a stolen uniform and breaking into a secure facility with a madman.
He didn't slow. Neither did she.
They were both crazy.
The IDs got them inside the building, just as he said they would. The next security station wouldn't be that easy, though. Theseus didn't slow -- but he turned off to the right before they got to the station and the two headed down a hall. Others were here, but no one took note of them.
She matched her step to his. Fewer people and then -- no one ahead of them. She glanced back. One person heading into a door --
He sprinted ahead to the emergency stairs and shoved something up against the lock and began to tape it with frantic haste. The door opened slightly and he pushed her in and down. He followed, closed the door -- the light that had come on went out, but they still had some light from the window in the door.
"Probably the safest place we could be," he said with a sigh. "Can you crawl up to the next landing?"
So they started up the stairs. They had to stay low for most of the way because there were people out in the halls and they passed the windows in the doors. After the eighth floor they dared walk up the stairs, though. There were fewer people in those halls now. She didn't know much about how Port Towers worked, but it seemed odd to see so much of it quiet at a time like this.
"They have offices and meeting rooms about midway through the tower," he said. "Not at the bottom and not at the top -- both are too vulnerable. They still aren't safe, of course, but there is a chance attackers would be stopped at lower levels, and anyone dropping bombs -- or aircars -- on the top floors would have less chance of hitting those in charge."
"Nothing like that has ever happened here," she protested.
"It has out in the stars, Alicia. And though this place is on Earth, it's linked to the stars." He stopped and rubbed at his wounded leg and then started out again. They went up another four flights in silence, but they were nearing the final floor. "I don't know what we'll find up top. I'm going straight to the comm equipment. There will be at least one person on duty there, but the main communication's room is down a few floors. This is backup and the link straight to the generator. I'm going to tap in there, send my message and hope for the best. I think I have everything worked out on the pocket comp. I just need to keep it connected long enough to relay everything."
"We aren't going to get back out the way we came in."
"No," he agreed and glanced at her, almost nervous for the first time. "I don't think we're going to get back out. I have to send the message, after that, we're done. We just have to not get killed."
"I like that idea." She sounded remarkably calm. She even felt calm. She trusted him not to get them killed.
Somewhere out in the city something exploded. They felt the building shake slightly and heard the muted sound.
"Out of time," he said. He stood straighter and did the work with the lock. He smiled brightly and they walked straight out the stairwell and down the hall. A guard did stand before a door, right there in sight. He had to know where they came from -- but he paused, surprised.
"Came up the stairs to avoid notice," Theseus said. He sounded perfectly normal. "Getting crazy down there. Here is my authorization."
The guard watched them. Theseus held out the pocketcomp, but as he neared the guard looked distrustful --
Something puffed up from the pocketcomp. The guard wavered, reaching for his comm-- but Theseus grabbed his arm. "No. You'll be fine. Don't worry."
The man blinked, blinked again, and his eyes closed. He slid down to the floor. Theseus didn't let him fall, sitting him carefully against the wall. He took the comm and the weapon.
"He won't be out for long."
It didn't take Theseus any longer to get this door open than any of the others, which made her really start wondering about security on her world. She had heard IWCS agents were special and dangerous, but just the same --
They were inside. He went straight across to the huge stand of equipment she in no way understood. So she stayed and looked out the window. Spots of smoke rose up in various areas -- some of it too close.
"The minute I set this off they're going to head up here," he said. "I think we should be out in the hall when it happens, with the door closed. That will give it a bit more time to send, if need be."
"Whatever you think is best," she said. She didn't sound quite as steady now.
"Go to the door," he said. He met her look and gave a single quick nod. "We'll be okay."
She gave one more glance to the world outside the window and then crossed to the door. Theseus did something and darted her way, but alarms were ringing already. He opened the door, closed it behind them -- and they stood there, waiting.
To Be Continued
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