Francis stood in the room and waited.
He liked the plan. Sure. It was a good plan. On a scale of one to ‘this is a fantastic plan,’ this was probably something in the range of an eight. Nine if he was feeling generous. Francis hated to complain… no, okay, that was a lie. He hated to complain to Amadeus, though. It made him feel stupid and somehow wrong.
He was waiting here, in the projector room. He’d turned on the wall-screen and was watching the room with the source in intently. It was still in its cage, still impossible to make out properly.
Elsewhere in the building, Amadeus would be invited in by the Director, who didn’t know he’d decided to steal from her. While this was happening Sam, one of the other super-humans Amadeus had recruited and a rank three shapeshifter, would make their way through the facility disguised as the Director; with Rick, a rank one with freezing touch, acting as a bodyguard if things got messy.
When Sam and Rick reached the source room Francis would see them, announce it, over the telecom and send the place into uproar once more. Amadeus would ‘rush to the rescue,’ apprehend Sam and Rick and, when no one was looking, palm the Source off to Francis, who would slip away with it in the ensuing confusion.
As plans went it was… well, it was certainly complex. For Francis it seemed as though any number of things could go wrong. Things were going well so far, at least on his side of things, but he couldn’t shake the feeling things were going to go horribly wrong. Sneaking in had been simple enough without anyone else tagging along, getting in the way, he had to admit. Now he was waiting in terrified silence, sure each second that someone would come in, find him and everything would just get worse from there.
Francis snapped out of his dazed reverie and stared at the screen. Movement. The door had opened in the room and Sam and Rick entered hurriedly. Rick scanned the ceiling, looking for the camera that linked to Francis’ room. Spotting it, he gave it a thumbs up. Francis returned one of his own, forgetting that he couldn’t be seen. He liked Rick, who was nervy and not entirely sure about the plan either. Sam, on the other hand, was confident to a fault. They stepped over to the Source cage, their face rippling like disturbed water, changing into another, with a cruel smile and and sharp eyebrows. Peering between the bars their eyes widened and they simply stared for a moment. Eventually they nodded and said something to Rick. He raised his hands and rubbed them together, blowing on them. His breath plumed in a cloud.
Francis didn’t wait to see Sam grab the cage. He stepped over to the intercom, pressed the button and spoke loudly into it, trying to make his voice sound as serious and professional as possible.
“Attention,” he said, “Hostiles detected attempting to steal the Source. Apprehend with all possible speed.”
Letting go of the button Francis stood still for a second, his heart sinking like a stone, sure he’d messed it up. Then, realising he had a job to do, he dashed towards the door and slipped through it.
Amadeus had shown them all a plan of the facility and Francis had done his best to memorise it. He was bad at memorising things and slightly wishing he’d decided to bring Lee along. No, he told himself. Lee had betrayed him, this was his moment, the moment he fought back against the stupid rubbish he had dealt with for years. Lee could ally himself with murderers if he liked. Francis was better than that.
Turning a corner Francis nearly bumped into a man in a black suit coming the other way. The man’s eyes widened and he moved to grab Francis. Smirking, Francis stepped through him and ran down the corridor. The pounding of footsteps behind him slowly faded as he went round a bend.
Damn, damn, damn. Now they knew he was here. Okay. Fine. Keep calm. He’d just have to be quicker.
Scanning the hall in front of him Francis saw a series of doors stretching down one wall. He grinned. Then his face fell. He didn’t know which door it was! Why the hell didn’t he know which door it was! Amadeus had told him which door it was! Suddenly he missed Lee with a horrible clarity. Lee would know.
Trying the door next to him Francis found it was locked. Okay, it couldn’t be that one, because Sam and Rick had been able to walk right into the Source room. Why the Director had left a room containing the Source unlocked, Francis didn’t know. Maybe she hadn’t expected anyone would come down here. No. Shut up Francis. Focus. One door down, seven to go.
Francis turned around. His pursuer had caught up with him and was running towards him, moving to tackle him. Francis, unthinking, dived out of the way: through the locked door and into the room beyond.
Darkness. Francis stumbled around blindly, reaching around until his hand felt wall. He leaned on it, willing himself to remain solid, breathing coming in heavy gasps. After a minute or two of deep breathing he calmed himself down. Standing straighter he looked around, trying to get his eyes to adjust to the darkness. It was pitch black, impossible to see.
What could he do? He couldn’t go back out there, not with that guy waiting for him. He didn’t know if he’d be able to slip through his grasp a second time. He was exhausted and his power only worked in fits and starts when he was tired, often at the most inconvenient moments.
He supposed he could walk through the rooms until he reached Sam, Rick and the Source, but he didn’t know which was the right direction. He didn’t even know where any of the walls were, which made things a little more difficult.
A noise made him freeze. A low, insistent humming that seemed to fill the room and reverberate all around him. Suddenly two little red lights flickered on, so close it made Francis stumble back, hands going up to shield his face.
A voice spoke in the darkness. Cold, metallic, dead.
“Who are you?” It said.