Bishop said nothing. He continued to wriggle and choke in my grasp, tears running down his cheeks. He was young, in his early twenties perhaps, with a round, cute face. He was on the short side for a man, but I still had to stand on my tiptoes to hold him.
“Hey,” I said, loosening my grip against his neck just slightly. “Deal?”
He nodded. A strangled sob escaped his mouth and he opened it wider. Preparing to scream.
I pressed the gun to his temple as I pulled him down the deserted white hallway. “Screaming is my very least favorite thing.”
His mouth snapped shut.
I stopped in front of the lab door and reached down for Bishop’s key card. I swiped it across the lock and the door slid open. Bishop staggered forward as I dragged him into the room.
The narrow space stretched out almost the whole length of the hallway. Computer screens lined the walls and lab tables ran down the center. It smelled like disinfectant and Reboot. Someone had tried to erase the smell of death and failed.
Tony had said the antidote would be at the back of the lab, locked up tight in a large glass room. I lugged the human down the center of the lab, past the computers and long tables and thick books.
The vials were lined up in neat rows in cases, just like Tony had said. They were also labeled just as Tony had suspected, with random letters and numbers I didn’t understand. There was no way for me to know which one I needed.
I swiped Bishop’s card against the lock and the doors opened. I stepped into the cool room and released my arm from the human’s neck, poking my gun into his good shoulder.
“Which one is the antidote?”
He blinked at me. There were tears on his eyelashes as he squinted down at my bar code.
“One-seventy-eight,” I said. “It’s not for me.”
He hesitated, looking from the vials to me. He must have known he could lie to me. He could point me to some awful drug that would do terrible things to Callum. I was relying very much on this human’s fear of me.
“I just told you I’m One-seventy-eight,” I said, pressing the gun harder into his shoulder. “It doesn’t bother me in the least to kill you.”
He took in a shaky breath and pointed down to the cases on the bottom shelf. There were three of them, with about fifty vials per case. The liquid inside was murky, almost gray.
“Pull them out,” I said. “All of them.”
A sound above me made me pause, glance up at the ceiling. Running. The sound of a hundred Reboots running. The ceiling was shaking, laughing and shouting filling the air.
Addie had done it.
I smiled before focusing on the human again, who was still standing there staring at me. I jerked my head at him and he got down on his knees and pulled the first case off the shelf, stealing a glance in my direction.
“You’ve killed us all,” he whispered.
“How do you figure?” I gestured to the vials around me. “I’d say you’re the guilty ones, injecting us with this crap.”
“We’re trying to protect ourselves from you,” he said, wiping his hand across his nose and setting the second case on top of the first. “Now you’ve . . .” He pointed to the ceiling, to the eighth floor, where he must have also recognized the sound of Reboots running. “You’ve let them all out.”
“We saved them.”
Bishop grunted his disagreement and placed a third case on top of the stack. “There. That’s it.”
“You sure those are the right ones? Because I’m going to go out there and test it right away. I’ll come back for you if it’s wrong. Trust me, you don’t want me to come back.”
He nodded. “That’s it.”
I wanted to smile and scream and jump up and down, but I held it back. I was so close. All I had to do was get out of the building.
I leaned down to grab the vials.
I realized my mistake as soon as I took my eyes off Bishop.
He sprinted out of the glass room. I whirled around and stumbled after him.
Too late. My hands hit the glass.
I was locked inside.
BISHOP’S FACE BROKE INTO A GRIN AS HE STARED AT ME FROM the other side of the glass. He fumbled around in his pocket and produced a com, almost dropping it as he held it up to his mouth.
“Bishop,” he said into it. “Medical lab on the seventh floor. Tell Officer Mayer and Ms. Palm to get to Austin right away. I’ve got One-seventy-eight.”
I’ve got One-seventy-eight. The words rang in my ears, caused my throat to close up. He couldn’t have me. I wasn’t failing because of this one little human.
I pulled the gun out of my pocket. The glass couldn’t be bulletproof.
It couldn’t be.
I fired one shot. The bullet flew straight through, leaving a spiderweb of cracks around the hole. Bishop’s eyes widened, and he took several steps back, slamming into a lab table.
I grinned, lifting the gun again.
I was out of bullets. I reached for my tranq gun, which had plenty of shots left, but that was useless with the human on the other side of the glass.
Bishop let out a visible sigh and spoke into his com again. “No, it’s fine. Come quick, though.”
“Don’t move,” I heard a voice on the other end of the com say. “Keep her in your sights.”
Bishop swallowed and nodded, taking a few more steps back from the glass.
I looked down at the vials at my feet. No. I wasn’t letting Callum die a blank, emotionless HARC robot.
I was getting out of here.
I lifted my boot and kicked the glass as hard as I could.
A crack snaked up from the bullet hole to the ceiling.
I kicked it again. Another crack.
Bishop stumbled as he scrambled to the other side of the lab. “Hey!” he yelled into the com. “Hurry! She’s—”
The glass shattered. I let out a whoop and launched myself across the lab, leaving the vials for now. Bishop was headed for the door and I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.
I grabbed him by the hair and he yelled as I jerked his head back. He gasped, strangled noises escaping his mouth.
“Please don’t kill me,” he sobbed.
I didn’t want to prove him right, so I punched him instead. I hit him so hard I heard a crack and he sunk to the ground. I fired a dart into his neck for good measure and his body sagged.
Racing back to the vials, I scooped them up in my arms and bolted out of the lab and through the hallway. It was still empty, and I threw open the door to the stairwell.