I shook my head. “We need to stay long enough for me to get a look inside the lab. We’re close right now and it would be a wasted opportunity even if it turns out to be something we can’t handle.”
Haley frowned. “I get it. I know you want to know what’s in there. I want to know too, but if we get out now, you might be able to move the bots into position and look inside tomorrow. You’ve already got bots that are close.”
Vaughn nodded. “That’s a pretty good idea.”
I thought about it. I didn’t want to argue, but, “It is, but I don’t think we’ll get to find out tomorrow. I’m betting that after tonight they’ll move anything can somewhere else and I have no idea where. They’re a billion dollar company. They can hide things all over.”
“It’s more like 600 billion,” Vaughn checked both ways, “but you’re right about the hiding. We’ve got factories and warehouses all over the world and an island in the Caribbean, but I’m not sure if that’s owned by family members, the business, or the family foundation. They might all own a piece.”
Tara pulled out the sticks hanging from her belt. “We don’t have time to talk. If they behave like the True I know, they won’t wait. They’ll defend themselves aggressively. If you can get your bots into the room now, do it so we know their plans. Also do it because it’s your last chance. I don’t have as much data as I want, but if I had to bet, I’d bet that Higher Ground is closed tomorrow, maybe permanently, so that they can bring the Nine in to clean it up.”
We all looked at each other. That made too much sense.
I considered the bots that I had on site. If this were my final shot at getting information, I had a few bugs that I could still plant. Plus, I might want to self-destruct them all before we left.
I connected to the mobile bugs and sent them toward the steel door that two True stood guarding. It stood next to a larger door on tracks that rolled up toward the ceiling. I hadn’t given it much thought because I’d assumed that it was for loading and unloading trucks.
I aimed the mobile bots upward toward the top of the larger door, using my implant to view the feed from their cameras. I didn’t know if I would have been able to control multiple bots with my mind before getting the implant. I doubted it, but I didn’t have any easy way to test.
It didn’t take long to find a way around the door. The bots saw nothing at the top. The door was flush with the opening to the next room. Having a few bugs up there made little difference, but by the time they got to the bottom, I found it possible to watch the True soldiers guard the human sized door a few feet down the wall while directing the bots in how to get through under the door.
It wasn’t perfectly flush with the floor. The space leftover was easily enough for the bots to slip through.
In the moment they were under, everything changed. The bots were no longer in a large warehouse room that been converted into a lab. The room that they were now in was smaller and felt smaller than that because of everything that they’d attempted to fit inside.
Originally, the room must have been a garage for two pickup trucks or minivans. It might even have worked for a semi with a small trailer with a little room to load the trailer inside. Now it held the birthing chambers next to the door, but they weren’t empty. A greenish blue fluid and grown human bodies filled them. I counted a dozen of them.
Next to the birthing chambers were sleeping bags and mattresses. There were too many to count with confidence, but in the short look I had, I guessed it might be twenty, maybe twenty-four or two batches worth.
To the left of the bedding were machines. The implant recognized all of them as Abominator equipment manufacturing devices, each one thousands of years old and predating human civilization.
They weren’t interesting to look at. Gray boxes about half the size of a car, each of them with small screens and controls on one end and an opening on the other that was closed on some and open, holding pieces of Abominator armor, weapons, or equipment on the rest.
Victor stood next to the machines in the jeans and sweatshirt he’d worn to work, staring at the bedding and smiling. Dr. Griffin stood next to the birthing machine, glancing away from it and toward the bedding as well.
Her expression was hard to read, but as she looked her lips curled in what I took as an expression of disgust—that disappeared almost as soon as it appeared.
People lay together in the bedding, many of them huddled together, all of them naked, some of them lying on top of the sleeping bags, some of them under. They were male and female, all of them at least six feet tall, some of them closer to seven, all of them muscular.
I knew all of them or at least the people who’d supplied the original DNA. A few looked like Emmy, but much larger, making them twins or nearly identical brothers of Tara. It got worse. Some of the clones had Stephanie’s dark hair and thinner face.
The last group of True were the biggest surprise. Even though her clones were larger than she was and some of them male, I recognized Cassie’s blond hair, square face and cleft chin.