Chapter Thirty-one

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“What are you doing here?” May asked, breathless and baffled. Her eyes followed Jeremy as he rushed forward and frisked the fallen — and apparently unconscious — guards. “And what did you do to them?”

Jeremy jumped up, victoriously brandishing a pass card in one of his hands. May realized what he was doing then — she had watched Foster use her card to scan them through locked doors.

“No time to explain,” Jeremy said. He reached out, grabbed May’s hand and dragged her after him as he took off down the hallway. “We’ve gotta go.”

“Wait! The entrance is back that way!”

“Do you honestly think they’re going to let us leave out the front door?”

May’s skin prickled with fear. She was clearly in more trouble than she realized.

“Do you know another way out of here?”

“Of course I do.” Jeremy skidded to a stop in front of a door marked CELL BLOCK D and scanned his pilfered card. The door unlocked with a heavy metallic clunk. “Perfect eidetic memory. I’ve got the blueprints of this place memorized down to the foundation. Now stop talking and fucking run.”

Cell Block D was a cacophony of startled shouts and excited hoots that echoed off the cinder block walls like a cave. The noise made May’s heart leap into her throat. She lifted her feet and pumped her free hand to increase speed, crushing Jeremy’s hand in the other. The prisoners in this block were confined to their jail cells, but the guards screamed for the pair to stop. May was braced for bullets to start flying when they reached the doors on the other side of the block. There was a guard there, and he was ready for them.

Unfortunately for him, Jeremy was ready too. He released May’s hand and leapt forward like an animal. His feet caught the surprised guard in the gut, knocking him off his feet and onto his back. Jeremy wasted no time nor pity, and landed a hard and ruthless stomp on the man’s throat.

“Holy shit!” May gasped in the same amount of time it took Jeremy to scan the pass and shove the doors open.

“Move it!” he barked back at her.

She did as she was told.

As they careened down another corridor, a deafening alarm sounded around them.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Jeremy huffed like some kind of frantic mantra. They slammed into a pair of double doors and into what looked to be a cafeteria. “Kitchen, hurry!”

They stumbled around a serving counter, slamming their hips into prep stations in the process. May winced but didn’t dare slow down.

Through the kitchen and passed the massive freezers, they came at last to a loading area where bulk shipments of grocery supplies were delivered. Somehow the sounds of panic and chaos outside of the cafeteria managed to reach them, despite the still-droning alarm.

“Shit!” Jeremy shouted, scanning the card again and again. “They’re on lockdown. Scan pass access has been deactivated. The only way out now is a manual override.”

May, who had been watching their backs for guards, spun around. “Aren’t you a hacker or something?”

“Sort of.” Jeremy threw his hands up in the air. “But I only know shit I’ve needed to use. And even if I knew what to do here I’d need a computer or something to get into the system.”

Hurrying forward, May crouched low and looked over the panel that held the scanner. “Help me get this thing off the wall. I’ll bet we can do this the old fashioned way.”

Muttering a series of curse words under his breath, Jeremy dashed back to the kitchen and returned with an armful of utensils. He dumped them on the ground in a mess of metallic clatter. Together they pried the panel open and May gazed at the series of wires and circuits inside.

“I’m pretty sure I read about this kind of system in a book at Marina’s place,” May cried, excitement overtaking her fear. She did recognize this system. In fact, there was a good chance that this very one had been designed by Marina, Connor’s genius sister herself.

Carefully, May set to work on the manual override. Jeremy stood back by the entrance, hiding behind the corner and keeping an eye out for guards. He held large, gleaming utility knives in either hand.

“Hurry,” he hissed.

“I’ve almost got it,” May snapped back.

From the cafeteria, May heard the doors crash open.

“We’re out of time, May.”

She finished rerouting the appropriate circuit. The door began emitting a low, constant buzzing. May jumped up and wrenched it open just as footsteps rounded the corner.

May looked back just in time to see Jeremy twist around from his hiding place and sink one of his knives into a guard’s stomach.

“Go!” Jeremy shouted, a crimson spill washing over his hand.

It took everything May had to turn away. She flung herself forward, out the door and down the grated metal stairs to the loading area below. Jeremy followed, slamming the door shut behind him.

“We’ve got to find the others,” May called back to him.

“No time!” He waved furiously for her to keep moving. “Cross the road and get into the trees. We’ve got to get to the ravine.”

They ran for the road. To her left, May could see Lety’s vehicle kicking up dust as it tore toward them. Her heart leapt, but her elation was short-lived as a prison vehicle screeched around Lety and came to a skidding halt between them.

“Go, go, go!” Jeremy screamed as prison officers spilled from the vehicle with their guns drawn.

A shadow briefly blotted out the sun and May heard a familiar caw. She looked up and saw Fargus, who had just dropped something from his talons. She reached out and caught the item as it landed heavily in her arms.

It was the Star cannon.

Without stopping, May pulled the cannon over her forearm and slid back the charging canister. The cannon came to life with a high-pitched whine.

“Freeze!” shouted one of the officers as they took aim.

May pointed a loose fist at their car.

“What are you doing?” Jeremy cried. He was already on the other side of the road and watched her with round, panic-filled eyes.

She squeezed her grip.

Light erupted from the cannon.

The vehicle rocketed five feet into the air and landed with a bone-shaking crash. The officers dove forward, covering their heads with their arms as they hit the pavement.

May charged into the trees after Jeremy, pausing only to send one last shot, which she aimed at the pavement between them and the officers. Chunks of asphalt exploded into the air.

By the time the dust had settled, she and Jeremy had vanished.

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