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I was finding it harder and harder to stay in continuous contact with Clair. The problem wasn't just firewalls and adaptive security. I had at last been actively engaged. I couldn't tell who they were, or even where in the building they were. It was hard enough just staying one step ahead of them. But someone definitely knew I was there, and that someone was fighting me every step of the way.

Wallace stayed behind as Kadri led them up a flight of a fire escape that was old as the original building. One floor up, there was a short unadorned corridor that ended in a door that was actually two doors, one inner, one outer, both with biometric locks. Kadri placed her palm against the inner lock. It beeped. She stood back as the door slid open.

"Packs off," she said.

Clair slipped out of hers and dropped it at her feet. Kadri waved her through. Clair hesitated before obeying, with an agonized look on her face. It was clear the door was going to be locked behind them. Once inside, without weapons or supplies, they would be entirely helpless.

"What's going to happen to us?" asked Jesse.

"That's not up to me," Kadri said. "Chances are he'll let you out when everything calms down."

"But we haven't done anything wrong!" said Shannon.

"Just get inside and wait it out. If we wanted you dead, you already would be."

Inside was a large room with curving walls down one side and a door on the other. There were no windows and no other doors, but there were several rooms beyond the one they were in, including a bathroom and dining room with a fabber for food and water. The curving wall formed a circle surrounding all of these rooms. There was only one way into that circle, and once that was shut, it might never open again.

I did everything I could. I tried hacking the lock, without success. I tried shutting off power to that part of the building, and when that didn't work I tried the exact opposite: a power surge. But that didn't work either. As the first of the double doors closed, in desperation, I attempted to fire the pistol taken from Clair, but Kadri had switched it off.

The second door closed. A Faraday shield activated. The last thing I heard from Clair's ear rings was her voice saying, "Shit."

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