“Why did – how – but – he was just a cleaner,” Lagos babbled as he half-led, half-chased Predericon through the passages.
“He was,” Predericon said. “Unfortunately, he was also trying to kill me and it seems as though he killed Gyden. He had blood on his sleeves.”
“That was him?”
“What do your superiors know?” Predericon asked.
“Just that – this way – someone snuck in, he must’ve been using the […] ducts, and […] … uh, I mean […] … um, Gyden was killed,” he finished lamely. “Someone – Skelly, I guess, cut off her, uh…” he stopped, looking miserable. “[…] Munroe was furious.”
“Very well,” Predericon said sadly. “And Lelhmak? Was he really killed in the crash and then cut up and studied?”
“How did you-? Yes,” Lagos said. “Yes, that’s what happened. I’m sorry. This way.”
“And where are we going now?”
“The base is […] lock down,” Lagos explained. “All personnel […]. I’m going to take us down into the […] tunnel, then up through the […], out into […]. I know where there’s a […] stashed, I’ve got some friends in […], we’ll get you to […].”
He seemed to be talking more to himself than to her at that point, so she didn’t bother asking for clarification.
“Will you get in trouble?” she asked when he finally ran out of steam.
Lagos grinned, his little square white teeth gleaming in the gloom. “Only if they catch me.”
“Thank you, Lagos.”
“Call me Timothy.”
She followed him across a couple more rooms, down some stairs and along another corridor. When they rounded a corner and almost bumped into another human in military garb, all three of them froze for a moment.
“[…] Lagos,” he said, and stared fearfully up at Predericon. “What…”
“Prisoner transfer for security reasons,” Lagos said, “you heard the-” even as he was talking, he whipped his arms across and clubbed his fellow soldier judiciously in the skull with the butt of his gun. “He’ll be fine,” he said, crouching and easing the soldier to the floor.
“Wait here,” Predericon also crouched, took the human in her lower arms, and stood. “I’ll take him back to a room we passed, so when he wakes up he won’t realise which way we went. There was even a duct opening there, I can…”
Continuing to talk, she hurried back though the adjoining room, set the human down, and snapped his neck with her upper hands. He would still have been able to tell his superiors which way they’d been going.
Lagos was standing indecisively in the doorway leading into the corridor when she hurried back. The look he gave her suggested he knew perfectly well what she’d just done.
“Come on,” was all he said.
They jogged down another passageway, down some stairs, across another room and then into a narrow tunnel lit by bulbs in metal cages. From there Lagos led her up a metal staircase and through a couple of rooms lined with shelves of metal cans and bags of grain of some sort. The rooms seemed more fortified, the walls thick and the ceilings low and the doors made of metal.
They reached a ladder, and ascended into a concrete chute. Panting raggedy at the top, Lagos wrestled open a heavy wheel-locked hatch and clambered out. Predericon followed him into the glaring light, baking heat and sparse vegetation of a desert.
“Alright,” Lagos gasped, hands on his knees, then straightened and pointed. “[…] this way. I want to get as many […] between us and this place as we can by nightfall.”
Predericon closed the hatch, stood on the concrete pylon and looked upwards, up into the hot blue vault of the sky.
Somewhere up there, past the spinning planets and the blazing fury of the sun, the Destarion lay in the ice. Slumbering, waiting for a human race that had forgotten she even existed.
She lowered her eyes, scanned the arid horizon for a moment, and then trotted after Lagos, into the scrub.