Chapter 15

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"Now is not the time to speak of this." Luca straightens. "We have larger problems."

I look around him, taking stock of the unconscious Tech. "That scientist probably won't be very receptive to a bribe."

"It is unlikely."

"Right." I exhale, determined to regain control of my wits. Hopping off the bed, I push aside my worries about Luca and my sanity,  replacing them with a new scheme. "We're changing tactics."

"What are you thinking?"

"That we need to get her out of here." I step gingerly around him and move to crouch beside the unconscious Tech. "If she tells anyone we were here, we're toast."

"Toast?"

"Finished." I consider the woman's appearance then begin slipping the white coat free of her shoulders. Luca joins me a second later.

"How long do you think she'll sleep for?" I ask as I shrug on the jacket.

"An hour. Two, perhaps."

"Then we'll have to be quick. Help me hide her away in the meantime." I bite my lip as I survey the destroyed room. "The rest of this mess is going to be trickier to conceal."

"I'll report the damage as a result of an altercation with a prisoner." Luca says, unclipping the official-looking identification badge from the woman's shirt and handing it over to me.

"That won't look suspicious?"

"Why should it? It's the truth." Luca's joke eases some of the tension.

"Yes, but I mean, it draws attention to you." I fiddle with attaching the identification card to my coat pocket. "I don't like it."

"It's nothing you wouldn't do if you were in my place." Luca's head tilts. "Your card is crooked."

I grunt in frustration, ripping the square loose and re-attaching it more carefully. "I don't care for your casual attitude when it comes to subterfuge."

"One guess where I learned it from." Luca fires back. "Are you ready?"

"Yes." I lie. "What about her?"

Luca glances about the room, indicating a locker pressed up against the wall. I pull open the doors and push aside a few scattered items, making room in the tight space before helping Luca lift the Tech inside.

"An hour, you say?" I make sure to leave a small gap to allow air into the locker.

"Perhaps we make it less."

I nod, attempting to hide my own nervousness behind a small grin. Taking a deep breath, I smooth back my hair and push down the door handle, stepping out into the corridor.

The lights are unforgivingly bright outside the mirrored room but I do my best to appear unbothered, each step purposeful as I stride down the hallway with Luca following a few paces behind. My eyes slide back and forth, though I'm not entirely sure what it is I'm searching for. Each door appears exactly the same as the one before, the rooms seemingly identical. I think of the terrified glances shared between the Babelonians during our long descent into the Tower and once again the heavy hand of guilt settles upon me. For the barest of instances I linger but Luca's arrival a heartbeat later sets my feet moving again.

Not yet.

Save him, first.

I nearly falter when the hallway turns and abruptly ends, the hum of many serious conversations and the sudden harshness of chemicals rushing up to meet me. A vast, echoing chamber unfolds before us, filled with countless Techs and a variety of strange-looking equipment.

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