The duplicate Mikaela checked her watch. It had been fifteen minutes since the original her left the campus, which meant that whatever else happened, this couldn’t be traced back to her and land her in a jail cell. Through the slightly ajar bathroom door she watched as the guard loped slowly down the hall, swinging a few dozen keys at the end of a retractable chain and whistling softly.
Mikaela turned to the version of her in a bunny suit. She was wearing so much makeup her skin had a flaking, otherworldly quality to it. “You are just a nightmare,” she said.
“Thank you… I think. You ready?”
“Waiting on you.”
Bunny shoved the bathroom door open hard enough it clacked loudly into the rubber stopper that kept it from hitting the wall. The guard frowned, turning slowly towards the sudden noise. Bunny just stood there, staring at him.
The guards eyes went wide, and he spun on his heels. “No,” he said, glancing over his shoulder, “nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope…” he said, as he walked briskly away. Bunny gave her a thumbs up before skipping down the hallway after him.
“Huh,” Mikaela said. “Figured he’d chase her, but…” she shrugged, and started down the restricted hallway. She used Liz’s key card on the door, and entered inside. She could hear a radio at the far side of the room, and two men chatting idly. She looked around the room, for things she might be able to use. The room was a series of corridors of server racks, with a strange floor material she suspected was there to prevent static discharge. There was an extinguisher attached to the wall, which in a pinch she could use as a weapon, but she’d never been much of a fighter, and even if she could win against two men, she’d leave a lot of blood and questions in her wake. No, this called for a greater degree of subtlety. There was an empty desk near the wall, just under a fire alarm, and she thought that could work.
She pulled the alarm, and ducked under the desk.
She heard a chair push out from across the room. “It’s probably another false alarm,” one of the men said.
“Or it’s a drill. And then we spend thirty minutes getting yelled at by the ERT captain again. Come on. We can get a mocha from the cart on the way back. And it’s an excuse to stretch our legs on company time. Besides, we’re sitting on our thumbs until those hard drives get here, anyway.”
The other man sighed for a good ten seconds before saying, “Fine. But you’re buying the mochas.”
“And you’re springing for Danishes. That way my husband can’t complain I broke Keto.” Mikaela counted to twenty after the door shut, before crawling out from under the desk. The door she’d come through opened and she froze, still mostly hidden behind the desk as the guard walked through. The opposite door opened. “Need my coat if I’m getting the mochas. Plus it looked like it might rain.”
“We’ve got to evacuate,” the guard said, stress still evident in his voice.
“You okay? You sound…”
“Having a rough morning…” the guard said.
“Come on. I’ll get you a mocha, too. Always find that calms my nerves.” The far door shut again, and Mikaela exhaled.
She waited behind the desk for another thirty seconds, convinced the moment she was finally in the open there would be another intrusion. Eventually, she came out of hiding, and ran over to the chairs the techs had been sitting in. She looked around, trying to find a node or something to tap into. She’d brought a handful of cables, to cover most of her bases, but if there weren’t any connection to the outside world she was going to have serious issues. Plan B then was to grab as many drives as she could and carry them out- but the risks there were a lot greater.
Then she spotted it, an ancient looking desk phone. She turned it over, and discovered it was so old that it connected with a regular phone line. She followed the phone line to the wall, and replaced the cable with a longer one. She was able to find a jack in the nearest server rack, and plugged in. From there, she plugged the phone into the server, then dialed Ryan’s number.
It rang twice before he picked up. “I was beginning to wonder if you needed us to run digital interference,” he said.
“Had to jump through a few hoops, was all,” Mikaela said. “How’s the connection?”
“Not ideal, in that if I had fiber we’d be done already, but 35Mbps is better than dial up- 618 times better, actually. And I’ve had the telepaths and technopaths here all morning. We worked the kinks out of networking our minds together while we were waiting- we’re essentially the world’s most advanced super-computer- but we are writing to a physical server, too, so we have something to share once it’s over.”
“Shouldn’t you get to it, then?” Mikaela asked.
“Oh,” he said with a chuckle, “like DSL, you can use the phone line while you’re downloading. I’m multitasking. We’ve found all the relevant files. We just need a few more minutes to grab them all.”
“Do I have minutes?” she asked.
“Well, given that Klaus’s cell phone indicates he’s still standing outside, and he said he wanted a mocha once they let them back in, yeah. You should have plenty of time. And if it’s starting to get dicey I’ll crash the credit card reader at the coffee stand.”
“How does it look?”
“It looks like we’ll get a chance to see if Don is actually Teflon, or if there are limits to his ability to warp reality through the power of massive quantities of bullshit. Actually… when you say it like that, you don’t think he’s a Breed, do you?”
“Given how much he hates us- and anyone else even remotely different from himself, probably not. But that is a question that’s going to keep me up with nightmares. So thanks for that.”
“It’s what I’m here for. That and the wire fraud. You can disconnect, by the way. And exit by the north doorway. That guard is circling back around the other way again.”
“GPS?” “Yep. Anyone with a phone in their pocket might as well be yelling their current location and trajectory to me. Anyway, we’ll see you- or at least some version of you- later. Take care.”