Chapter 9

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It doesn't take long for me to sneak out, although I wouldn't call it sneaking

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It doesn't take long for me to sneak out, although I wouldn't call it sneaking. The guards know I'm going to the record room, while Marc believes I'm asleep in bed like everyone else. It feels like lately I've been lying and hiding more secrets from him, but it's hard not to. He's been overprotective ever since the last battle.

I know he means well. I just wish he'd let up.

The hallways are empty and quiet. I stay light on my feet, afraid someone will hear and rat me out to the council. This would be faster if I could teleport. Instead, I have to go the roundabout way, dodging the night shift workers and patrol.

Once I reach the record room, I set my wristwatch in front of the monitor's screen. It lights up, showcasing my name and rank for keeping track of who's been here. The door swishes open, ringing a triumphant melody—if only the laboratory was this easy to get into.

The record room holds two computers, each glass monitor is hooked to the wall, with a row of servers we salvaged from the outside world. Unlike our cloud storage, these delightful servers can only be accessed on these computers, making my job harder.

After logging on, I bring up the database to do a quick search for the numbers written on this stub: 05122062LC.

As it scans through each file, moving like a snail from one rock to the next, I examine the slip of paper in my hand. It's so fragile, already ripped at the top, near the corner. Dried blood stains the left side from poking out of my pocket for too long.

Someone must have slipped this piece of paper in my pocket while we were walking through the Mercado. It could have been the black rabbit or someone else trying to reach out to me. Either way, I will find out what this code means.

The computer trills. I spin around in the office chair without caution, and catch a dark shadow off to the side, near the locked door. But there's no one there. Just the lights beaming down on me from above, inside this cloudy tinted room. My shadow projects on the dusty tile flooring.

It must be my imagination.

I take a quick look at the monitor. Nothing. The database shows no record of whatever's on this paper. These numbers may have just been a hoax to get me outside of my room, but my gut feeling says this is real. It has to be.

I'll call Harry. He's the only guy I trust to hack into the UFE server and find what information I can't legally.

I log out of the system and leave the room as fast as I can. My phone is to my ear before I turn the first corner. It rings and rings, and it's not until the fifth ring, does the bastard pick up.

Sensual music plays in the background, mixing with conversations and light laughter. The memory is nostalgic. I can see the torn retro couch sitting in his crowded room, with a mountain of dusty computers stashed in one corner. People mingling about, holding a drink in one hand, while the other helps them take a trip up to the clouds.

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