The guards kept a careful eye on the ‘prisoners’ and shook Vančura’s hand as he passed. People with presidential approval were just unusual enough to keep the guards from paying quite as much attention as they should have. One of the things they didn’t pay attention to was the big man’s appalling lack of credentials.
After radioing ahead for someone to escort the detective and the prisoners, the guards waved him through.
“Go ahead, straight down this corridor and take the third turn on your right. There’s a security detail on the way to meet you.”
Vančura blinked at him in surprise, but smoothed the expression away as quickly as it appeared.
“Thanks. I’ll get these convicts turned over and get out of your hair.”
He headed down the corridor before they could change their minds, prodding Eddie and Armelle ahead of him. They went – not willingly, but they went – keeping a cautious eye out for trouble. As they went, Armelle shot a question over her shoulder.
“How in blazes did you get that code?”
Vančura paused at an intersection, glanced both ways, then motioned for them to cross.
“It’s a high-level multi-department pass, issued by the president. He gives it to people that need clearance in a range of government departments, but who don’t need permanent access. Or who need access in a hurry to places that getting full clearance takes a long time.”
“You didn’t answer my question!”
He grinned at her, a little smugly.
“It’s a rolling code, changes with every use, so it can’t be broken. But then… I find time so relative, don’t you?”
He chuckled softly.
“It’s Colonel Bosze’s code; he used it the first time he brought me here.”
A flicker of understanding lit Armelle’s eyes. Then, she frowned and shot him a suspicious look.
“How come Eddie and I never heard it?”
“Eddie would have forgotten it, anyway. But something had to change for Eddie to get on the same bus with me, anyway. Things are changing more than they should be able to.”
She almost thought she heard concern in his voice, but he’d ducked around a corner, muffling the last words.
The new hallway was lined with doors, each with an ‘active laboratory’ warning sign hung below its slotted window. Without slowing, Vančura unlocked his companion’s hand-cuffs, then pointed at one of the labs. Its window was dark, but the door was unlocked.
Without hesitating, they sprinted inside, and Vančura closed the door gently. The only light was from the slot window, but it was bright enough to show the long tables and equipment. The big man glanced around.
“Quick, slide me that stool!”
Armelle whisked it towards him and he jammed the seat under the door latch, anchoring the feet in an expansion crack in the concrete floor. He tested it, pulling on the door; the stool held it shut, with only the slightest give.
“Okay, we’re in. Once they realize we’re not where we’re supposed to be, though, they’ll search the whole building. You got a plan for that, or do I need to handle it?”
He watched Armelle expectantly, but before she could answer, there was a crash of breaking equipment. They glanced round at the same time, peering at Eddie in the gloom. He was standing in the middle of a pile of destroyed scientific apparatus, his white lab coat bright in the dark.
Armelle turned back to Vančura, a smug grin spreading over her face.
“No, I think I’ve got an idea…”
End Chapter 16 – Part 3
Okay, did you guys see that? Because if you saw what I saw, Eddie just solved a problem. Is that even possible?
Want to read the previous installments? They’re right here!
Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three,
Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six,
Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten, Chapter Eleven, Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen, Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen – Part One
Chapter Sixteen – Part Two