I could kill everyone in the bank within the blink of an eye.
“No,” Laura whispered before I could so much as twitch. “We might be able to end this without bloodshed.” She was touching the diamond ring on her necklace, frowning. “Assuming Derek doesn’t do something too stupid.”
Depended on how she defined ‘stupid.’ He certainly wasn’t going to tackle them if they had guns, but he also wasn’t going to sit idly by if people were in danger.
And neither would I.
I went deeper into the bank, past the water fountain and the bathrooms, pulling Laura behind me. She came without protest, likely realizing that getting spotted by the robbers wouldn’t end well for anyone. We crouched down low to keep out of sight and to force us to move more slowly, and thus more quietly.
There were a number of bland offices, individual rooms quite a bit nicer than the little cubicles we had back home but otherwise nothing special.
“Stop,” Laura said. She tried a door and frowned. “You have your lock picks on you?”
I nodded and pulled them out and started working on the lock. I might be a bit out of practice, but this lock wouldn’t keep out a five year-old. “Why do you want in?”
“This is the manager’s office,” she explained, pointing to a nameplate on the door. “There might be something in here we can use.”
“They might agree.”
“I know,” she admitted as I got the door open. “Stand guard. I just need five minutes.”
To my surprise, she kept her promise—she was out in four and a half minutes, a small flash drive in her hand. In my experience, people like her tended to lose track of time on missions, which could easily get them killed. I guess she had learned quickly when dealing with the screamers not to waste time.
“This is a copy of the code for the security system,” she explained. “Cameras and so on. I didn’t have time to hack it, but MC should be able to if we need her to.”
I frowned. “You planted a wi-fi bug?”
She shook her head. “I don’t have any on me. But I have an idea—this way.”
She led me around the corner, to another office out of sight of the first. I could hear yelling coming from the lobby, but no gunfire yet, so that was a good thing. I estimated we only had a couple minutes before someone checked the manager’s office; hopefully Laura hadn’t left any sign she was there.
“This one will do,” she whispered as she tried the knob for an office that had some obscure bureaucratic job title on the door. “Get us in there as fast as possible.”
Seconds later, she shuffled past me into the office, this time pulling me in as well.
“Shut the door, quick.” I did, as quietly as possible. “Look for a phone, a pad, anything with wireless capabilities.” To demonstrate her point, she started rooting through the desk—again, quietly.
“Here,” I said, handing her a phone of a strange design I didn’t recognize. It was nothing but a palm-sized touchscreen, almost like a small, fragile datapad.
She took it, a little bewildered as she switched it on. “Where’d you get this?”
I just pointed at the small desk next to the door, with a purse and a bowl of keys. The phone had been sitting right there.
“Oh. Okay. Um…” She turned her attention to the phone, before cursing under her breath. “Stupid thing is locked.”
“Can you hack it?”
“Sure. But with the time we’ve got, a four-digit combo may as well be four thousand. Any chance you’ve got a set of electronic lock picks?” I shook my head. “Yeah, me neither.” She used her nails to pop the case off the back, and sat down at the desk, in front of the computer. “See if you can find anything useful in that purse.”
I rooted around for a moment, to no luck. There wasn’t even a hairpin.
“That’s okay,” Laura assured me when she noticed my failure. “This isn’t the most sophisticated… right, got it.” A chip of silicon popped off. “Right. It’s not going to be much use for pretty much anything right now, but it will still get a signal.” She pulled a small cord from the desk, plugged one end into the phone and one end into the computer itself at her feet, and hid the phone behind the machine.
“Done,” she confirmed, getting out from behind the desk.
“Couldn’t you have just used one of ours?”
“Maybe, but the design’s are too different. I would have had to jury-rig a connector, and that would have taken too long.” She opened the door. “C’mon, we need to hurry before—”
“Ah HAH!” the robber roared from about a foot in front of us, as he pointed a large black handgun of an unrecognized model at our faces. I felt Laura’s arm in front of me, barring me from doing anything stupid. “John, I found some more!”
“Good!” I heard someone male call distantly from the front of the bank. “Bring them in!”
Handgun-man prodded us forward down the hallway with his single gun. Just one gun. Even without powers, I could take him in the blink of an eye, but Laura’s intentions were clear. She wanted to see where this was going.
The answer: Nowhere good.
The half-dozen bank robbers were all armed with shiny new automatic rifles that looked like they had been bought today. Derek sat next to Robyn and the bank manager, sporting a bloody cut across his face. He was playing it up, making it look worse than it was, but I knew him better than that. Under normal circumstances, he would have finished this before Laura and I had even finished hiding.
This was not normal.
“Now,” the leader, a tall man with a red bandanna covering his face, said as he pressed his gun against the skull of the little boy shivering in his grip. “I think it’s time we stopped playing games.”
Behind the Scenes (scene 219)
Wow, that’s a short one. Sometimes you just don’t notice until it happens.
Extra update Wednesday.