Despite my curiosity about the armor, my mind went back to the thing I should really be worried about. “Hey everyone, they’ve already got the True. Also, Art and Zola are coming along with Ronnie, Uncle Russ, and Ryan, so we’d better get out of here.”
Putting the papers back in the folder and handing it to Vaughn, Stephanie said, “Ok. Done. I was going to go over them once to see if I missed anything, but we don’t have time.”
Vaughn put the folder in the drawer and pushed it shut. “How are we doing?”
I checked the cameras. Hardwick, Ryan, Ronnie, Art, and Zola were walking toward the lab’s exit. I told him, “Not well, they’re heading out of the lab’s exit which means they’ll be entering through the door in the middle of the office. If we leave now, we can go through the hallway into the main Hardwick Industries’ offices.”
“That works,” Stephanie walked around me toward the office’s door. “I’ve got access to Hardwick’s security systems too.”
Vaughn and I followed her out. As we walked into Higher Ground’s lobby, Vaughn glanced over at the cubicles and past them to the door that led out to the lab building.
Then he caught up with Stephanie. “Where’d you learn how to hack into the security systems? Is that a super genius thing you just do natively?”
Opening the door to the hallway, Stephanie looked out without responding. Then she glanced back at us. “It’s clear and yes, I’m sure some of its freaky mad scientist stuff, but I learned a lot in Stapledon’s information gathering courses. Plus, the Coffeeshop Illuminati have more super-geniuses than most groups. Hacking stuff is what they do.”
Neither Vaughn nor I said anything as we followed her down the hall. I don’t know what Vaughn was thinking about, but my mind went back to the Coffeeshop Illuminati. Depending on who you talked to, they were either a terrorist group or a vigilante group that didn’t let the unwritten rules of super teams prevent them from doing what they thought was right.
“For the record,” Stephanie added, “I still haven’t told them anything, but if the True do explode out of here and destroy the entire human race, not calling the Illuminati in will have been a mistake.”
Then she stopped and motioned toward an open doorway into a Hardwick Industries office area. “I’m thinking we should wait there until we know they’re in the office. We don’t want them looking down the hall.”
I checked the cameras in Higher Ground. They weren’t in the labs at all. I switched cameras to check the cube farm. They were walking in the door. Art walked through last and shut it. Ronnie stepped inside first, looking around before he let anyone else in.
As I watched him, I noticed that his eyes glowed a pale blue. I hoped that meant that he could shoot some kind of energy beams from his eyes because if he could see through walls, we were screwed.
He didn’t show any signs of seeing more than a normal person as he waved people in, checked up an down each row of cubicles, the door down our hallway, and finally into Sandy’s office.
“Coast’s clear, boss.” He stepped out of the way and let them walk past him inside.
Ryan shook his head as he walked past Ronnie and inside. “I can’t believe you made us wait while you checked the office. No one but Sandy and I have keys.”
Letting the scene go, I said, “They’re all in Sandy’s office now. If we’re going to leave before they discover the busted filing cabinet, now’s our best shot.”
Stephanie nodded, “Can’t argue with that.”
We stepped back into the hall, walking even though I felt more like running. Vaughn kept on looking back as we walked. It was understandable. He hadn’t been sure he wanted to deal with learning how to use my 360-degree vision system, so I’d left it out of his costume.
I turned up the volume on the office as we walked. They were going to notice the filing cabinet sooner or later. I wanted to know the second they did.
Ryan’s voice filtered through my implant into my head. “Now that we’re all in here, I’d like to know what you think.”
Hardwick let out a long breath. “I’m blown away. When you said super-soldiers earlier, I expected people like Captain Commando. I didn’t expect that they could predict stock prices or other corporations’ business strategies. Sending them out to shoot people is absolutely ridiculous. We need them here in the company. That kind of insight could make billions of dollars of difference.”
Ryan laughed. “That’s what I like to hear, but there’s more than that. We’ve found that different people’s DNA mixes with the True’s DNA in different ways. The True you’ve seen are the product of one donor, but we’ve created three different lines based on three different donors. You’ll find they each have their own strengths.”
Art’s voice broke into the conversation. “I don’t want to interrupt the two of you, but Zola and I heard a noise down the hall.”
“That’s not all,” Zola said, “There’s a smell in this room. It smells familiar, but there’s something not right about it. It smells strongest over… here. Was that drawer always broken?”