We arrive at the entrance to Mayor Epstein’s office, a towering building among towering buildings. There are security guards along each of the doors to the building, but they don’t seem to be reacting in any panic, which means Jones has not yet struck.
If this works out, we’ll be able to stop her in time. If it doesn’t, we’ll probably end up dead and Atlanta will fall apart.
In this case, “we” refers to Karina and myself. R8PR stayed home for this adventure. It is definitely a risk to use R8PR’s help in any potentially public situation. He’s top-secret to almost the entire world, and a fugitive that would spurn a bigger manhunt than Jones Burrow could ever dream of if discovered. That’s why we decided against him getting involved this time.
“We could have gotten faster if we took the highway,” Karina says. She’s not as big on the sky rail as I am. Too slow for her tastes. It’s a perfectly fast system, but not for someone whose entire job relies around a strict thirty-minute time limit.
“Sorry, rocket boots cramp my style,” I say, shrugging.
“I’ll get you in some, one of these days.”
“That sounds like a promise.”
“And you know I don’t promise lightly, Morgan.”
“We’ll see about that.” I look up at the skyscraper in front of us and crack my knuckles. “Let’s start this, I guess.”
Both of us are wearing Packard’s Pizzas outfits and carrying empty boxes in our arms. My uniform is one of Karina’s extras, so it doesn’t fit me at all, but it’s the best we could do on such short notice.
This may be the lamest plan either of us have ever come up with, in the history of scheming and plotting.
We enter the office.
The receptionist at the counter greets us with a smile, but her eyes are narrow, like she hasn’t had her morning coffee yet. I understand that feeling pretty well; just an hour ago I was still fixing breakfast, and I never had the chance to actually eat any of it. My stomach is killing me so I’m going to stop thinking about that now.
“Oh, pizza? What floor?” she asks.
“Thirty-two,” I say, picking a number at random. Epstein’s office is floor forty but that would be far too obvious.
“Ah, to the Office of Budget Management? Sounds like them, all right.” She laughs. She hands us a keycard. “One-time use. Make sure not to lose it.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Karina says.
We get in the elevator nearby and start moving up.
“How did that work?” Karina asks after we pass floor five with no hitch.
“I cannot comprehend the reason why,” I answer.
So… now we have to wait for the elevator to reach the thirty-second floor. We’re going to have to figure out a way to sneak up towards Epstein’s personal office, but that part comes later.
Karina giggles nervously and clutches her mouth.
“Are you nervous?” I ask.
She blushes and looks me in the eyes. “I’m sorry. Yes. I… I thought you might have died, earlier, at the park. I couldn’t find you anymore even after all the fighting stopped. That was one of the scariest moments in my life, waiting for you to call me. And now we’re going into the exact same situation, aren’t we?”
“Could be. Probably.”
“If everything works out, after this…” She looks down at the floor. “Well, you know.”
The elevator stops every few floors, but nobody gets on with us. It must be a slow day at work, but the way they’ve programmed these automatic stops is very annoying. We eventually reach floor thirty-two, though, and when it opens–
There’s three armed guards standing in front of it holding police batons and handcuffs. “Come with us,” one of them says.
I look at Karina. She looks at me. She rapidly presses the button for floor forty and waits for the doors to close.
The guards rush into the elevator just as the doors shut; one of them is caught and stranded on floor thirty-two, so now there are only two people to deal with.
“Come on, assholes!” Karina shouts. She delivers two rapid punches and then shoves both of her arms into a guard, sending him tumbling backwards into his companion. I extend a leg forward and trip them, both of them falling on their backs. One of them drops his baton and I pick it up.
As they try to get back on their feet, I whack both of them and knock them back down. They stay down.
“Okay, now that was too easy, too,” I say. “What’s going to–”
The elevator stops in its tracks. We’re only at floor thirty-six and now we’re stuck.
“They must have a manual control system,” Karina says. “We should have taken the stairs, huh?”
“We still can.” I step towards the elevator door and crack my knuckles. With all the force of my arms, I grab at the tiny gap between the doors and pull them apart. Agh, this is really… sealed tight.. Ahh! I exert more power and the doors swing open like butter. I mean, the way butter is sliced. Not the way butter opens. Uh… nevermind.
“Get ready to climb,” I say. “Only four floors and some steel ropes.”
“Climb? You… Morgan, you picked the wrong friend to help you with all this physical activity and peril,” Karina says. “I don’t think I can do it. I absolutely can’t do it.” She folds her arms at her chest.
“Are you… sure?”
Karina nodded. “I’ll be fine. Someone has to make a diversion, anyway, right?”
“I understand. I’ll save Jones, and then I’ll save you,” I say. “That’s what I’m here for.”
“You make a girl swoon, Morgan.”
Karina waves, and then I climb on top of the elevator. It’ll only be minutes before police and other arrive at floor thirty-six to capture the trespasser inside, so I have to hurry.
Time to climb…
First things first, I bend my knees down and launch myself in the air vertically. I clear two floors with that alone, and then grab onto the steel rope holding up the elevator car. The rope shakes for a second before stabilizing.
Surprisingly, the rope is very greasy. I guess that is to reduce friction as the cars move up and down, but it’s also fairly disgusting to feel in your hands, with the added complication that it is becoming very hard to keep a firm grip.
Two floors to go, then. I feel like it’s any second before my arms are going to completely give out, but I keep on going. If I don’t… do this… Jones is doomed. And I’m… not going to… have that!
At the final second before my hands lose their grip, I fling myself off of it and fly up another few feet, catching myself at the closed door to the fortieth floor.
That was extremely impressive and I am disappointed nobody else was around to see that. I doubt anyone will ever believe me if I tell them.
How the hell am I going to open the door like this?
It seems that I don’t have to, because it opens on its own, with two guards looking over me… and pointing rifles at my head.
“Oh, sorry guys, I was just looking for the bathroom,” I say. “Is this place off-limits?”