The woman was not restrained. She sat idly at a small desk, her hands folded before her, and watched the goings-on through almond eyes with little interest.

Do you speak English?” Smarty called over the cacophony of the undulating alarms. It seemed like a dumb question, but the woman's ethnic features made him think it might make for a long trip back to London if they could not communicate.

The woman nodded impassively, her hands still clasped atop the desk. Her expression was unreadable.

All right,” Smarty reached inside his backpack and pulled out a length of heavy nylon rope, “there's a window at the end of the hall. I'm gonna lower you to the ground out of it.”

The woman rose from her seated position but shook her head slowly, “The windows are all alarmed.”

Smarty quickly checked the ropes and carabiners. He then pointed to the ceiling and said, “Lady, this whole place is alarmed! Now move your ass.” He escorted the tiny lady out the door and down the hall, where a small sliding window awaited. Just as they neared the window, the lights flickered and the keening overhead alarm ceased. He was unsure of the reason why they had stopped; maybe Techie had come through after all, or maybe Jay had found a way to blow something up and screw with the wiring of the entire building. He was good like that. Smarty didn't know and he certainly didn't have time to figure it out. He reached out and slid the window to one side.

See? No alarms. Now, let's get you out that window and onto the ground, shall we?”

The woman shook her head, looking unconvinced, “How will you anchor me?”

Smarty made quick work of wrapping the rope around her and fashioning it into a five-point harness of sorts. He laughed as he did so, “I'm not. I'm just going to lower you. Now hop up, you're good to go.”

The woman set her mouth, and for a moment Smarty thought she was going to argue, but she only sighed and shook her head as she reached up for the sill to steady herself as he assisted her up to window height. She sat on the sill and asked, “How will you get down?”

Smarty grinned, “I'll fly.”

I'm serious.”

Don't worry about it. Just go.”

The woman grasped the metal window casing, then convulsed as ten thousand volts passed from the metal and through her hand. She slid off the window sill and Smarty caught her limp body before it hit the floor. She looked up at him with dazed eyes and mumbled, “I was wrong. The windows aren't alarmed after all.”

Smarty had to smile at her response in spite of the increasingly horrendous situation, “No kidding. Are you all right?”

She put her hand to her head but nodded, “I'm fine.”

All right. Don't worry, I'll get us through this,” he said while his mind searched for various avenues to follow leading to their escape.

His mind was silenced, however, when a stern voice behind them barked, “Do not move! We are armed and will not hesitate to shoot! Now lower the girl to the floor...”

The End

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