Siana and Bear’s windings through the corridors that ran beneath the Judicial and Municipal buildings led them eventually to a stairway. They went up this stairway until they stopped at a locked door with a small window. The window was of thick glass, reinforced with thin wires that criss-crossed the pane.
Siana and Bear looked through the glass.
On the other side of the door was a plain hallway.
“This hallway runs between the holding cells and Judge Hopper’s courtroom.” Siana said.
She retrieved her set of keys and a small flashlight from her pocket.
“I can’t unlock it now, or it’ll trip an alarm. Of course, once the alarms go off---“
“It won’t matter.” Bear said, finishing the thought, “How many guards will we have to deal with?”
“Two, most likely; four at the most,” Siana answered, “But we’ll have the element of surprise.”
Judge Hopper’s court, while not crowded, was full of people that day. Rynza and Kevin sat at the back, waiting for their friends to be trotted out.
They sat through a few cases. At the moment, a Sardossian teen was being brought out, through a door to the judge’s left. Before the door was shut though, Rynza caught a glimpse of the next defendants in line; waiting in the wings, as it were.
“Get ready, Kevin.” Rynza said, in a terse whisper.
Kevin quietly got up from his chair, and took a position behind Rynza, as if he was about to wheel her away.
“Don’t do it until I say so,” she continued, “At least one of them has to see us, so they’ll know it’s going down.”
“Okay.” Kevin whispered back.
Judge Hopper sentenced the Sardossian kid to Ragginarck. The kid seemed almost relieved as he was carted off. Then, Jon, Dom, Peggy, and Wes were brought in.
As they were led before the bench, Rynza caught Dom’s eye. It was only for a second, but Rynza saw recognition turn to a smirk of merriment. He turned to the others, and nodded.
“Kevin,” Rynza said, “Now.”
As their friends were turned to face the judge, Kevin backed up until he was at the wall, next to the red fire alarm. He lifted the plastic sheath, grabbed the switch, and pulled it down.
Immediately, the clamor began.
Kevin threw himself to the floor to avoid being seen, but the cacophony of loud ringing bounced off the walls and sounded like it was coming from all around.
The people in the courtroom looked at each other as if trying to find someone to tell them what to do. They didn’t panic, but they did start heading toward the doors in a semi-orderly rush.
The running and panic set in a moment later, when one alarm after another began to go off in the building.
Kevin, now standing again, kept Rynza away from the flow of increasingly frantic people.
Jon, Dom, Peggy, and Wes, and the other as yet unprocessed juveniles, were quickly bundled together by the frain, and sent back to the holding cell area. From there, all the detainees could be evacuated together.
Upon giving the order, Judge Hopper slipped out through the door at his right, and got the hell out of there.
Deep under all of this, Spencer and Woodrow heard the alarms.
“It’s time.” Woodrow said.
Spencer took his clamps and wire cutters, and went to work.
Moments later, the power went out in both the Judicial and Municipal buildings.
Herb’s “soft spot” had succeeded too well!
When the lights went out, several women screamed. The alarms had been cut off, but since the courtroom and hallway had no windows to provide light, the place was now plunged into a pitch black darkness.
Outside the courtroom doors, Kevin and Rynza could see moving light beams, as security officers with flashlights helped lead the frightened masses out.
“Maybe they’ll finally fix this place up.” Rynza said.
“No they won’t.” Kevin retorted.
“Either way, it’s time to go. Our work here is done.”
Kevin rolled Rynza out of the dark courtroom, and into the crowded, flash-lit, hall. A beam of light fell on them, and a security officer approached.
“Oh shig.” Kevin muttered.
But the officer merely said, “Here, let me help you there, son.” as he took Rynza’s wheelchair handles from Kevin, “Just follow me, I’ll get the two of you out of here.”
“Thank you officer.” Rynza said.
He led them all the way outside. Rynza thanked him again as he turned to re-enter the darkened building. Kevin wheeled Rynza in the direction of the Municipal building’s parking lots, where the Longstreet’s station wagon was parked.
When the alarms started, Siana used her key to unlock the stairwell door. As she and Bear watched through the window, Jon, Dom, Peggy, Wes, among others, were marched right past them, by two officers.
Then the lights went out, and Siana and Bear went through the door. From yonder came the sounds of a short scuffle.
The sudden revelation of Siana’s flashlight showed the two frain officers unconscious on the floor. The chained-together kids had jumped them, knocking them out before they had a chance to go for their stun guns.
“Well, Bear,” said Jon, “What took you so long?”
“We stopped for lunch.” Bear said, as she and Siana rifled through the officer’s pockets for the keys to the chains.
“Who’s this?” asked Peggy, referring to Siana.
“A long story.” Bear answered, pocketing a stun gun.
Siana found the keys, and soon all were freed.
“I suggest those of you not coming with us get the hell out of here, while you have the chance.” she said.
They didn’t need to be told twice; they scattered. Only the five Dreadniks remained.
“This way.” Siana said, and pointed down the stairway she and Bear had arrived through.
They bounded down the stairs and then through the corridors. Siana led the way.
They reached another stairway. They went up these, and ended up in the Municipal building. The lights were still out, and beams of light danced along the walls and ceiling as officers tried to lead people out.
“Over here.” Siana said, and the Dreadniks followed. They entered through a door marked: No unauthorized personnel beyond this point! They scooted past recently emptied offices and conference rooms, to a door with an EMERGENCY EXIT sign on it.
Siana pushed the door open. Afternoon light blinded them as the six stepped through the door to the outside.
In the parking lot, next to the Longstreet’s station wagon, Rynza and Kevin were waiting for them.
“Hey, guys!” Kevin said.
There were hugs all around. Only Siana remained the outsider, looking around nervously at the frain cars and fire trucks beginning to surround the Municipal and Judicial buildings.
“Mike and Callie’s wagon!” Jon said, “Does that mean---?”
Bear shook her head. “Sorry Jon. She’s gone.”
“Have Spencer and Woodrow shown up yet?” Siana asked.
“Oh my, I forgot about them,” Rynza said, “No, they have not.”
“Should we wait for them?” Bear asked.
“No,” Siana said, “There’s going to be frain swarming around here. You guys go back to the motel. I’ll go back in and find them. When I do, I’ll bring them back in my car.”
“I’m coming with you!” Jon and Bear said at the same time.
“No Jon, we just got you back,” Bear said, “We can’t lose you again. Plus, you’re an escaped prisoner; they’ll be looking for you. I got Spencer and Woodrow into this, they’re my responsibility.”
“You are no less important to this group than I, Bear---“ Jon started to say, when Siana cut him off.
“Neither of you are coming with me.” she said, “It’s going to be a hornet’s nest in there, and you two will only slow me down.”
“How do we know we can trust you?” Bear asked Siana, “How do we know you won’t screw us and use Spencer and Woodrow for some advantage. For that matter, how do we know this wasn’t a set-up, cooked into the plan from the beginning?”
“You don’t.” Siana answered, “But if I’ve learned one thing about you, Bear; it’s that you have a gift for discernment. Use it now. Look at me when I say to you that I will bring Spencer and Woodrow back to you.”
Bear looked hard at Siana, for an uncomfortable moment.
“See you at the motel,” she said, at last, “Good luck.”
Siana nodded, and re-entered the Municipal Complex alone.
Bear turned to Jon. “Jon…” she began to say.
Jon smiled. “If you trust her, that’s good enough for me.”
“Oh, I don’t trust her,” Bear said, “But I know when people are lying to me. She wasn’t.”
They turned and piled into the station wagon, and got on the road back to the Caprice Motel. Along the way, Bear told Jon and the others everything that had transpired after the frain sweep.
After Spencer and Woodrow took out the lights, they were engulfed in a darkness whose totality was only slightly mitigated by the flashlight Herb had given them.
“You know, this place is quite oppressive in the dark.” Spencer said, “Herb should have given us a bigger flashlight. This thing is pathetic; no shigging help at all.”
“Let’s get out of here.” Woodrow said, “Which is our corridor?”
“This one.” Spencer said, pointing with the flashlight.
The two ran down the long corridor, until they reached another intersection like the one they had left behind.
“What did Herb say?” Woodrow asked, “Go right?”
“He said left, dummy!” Spencer snapped.
“LEFT!!” Spencer growled.
Woodrow snorted laughter. “For a pointy-headed freak, you are so easy to mess with!”
“Remind me to kill you later.” Spencer said.
They went left. They ran down this corridor a long time; almost too long. Then they reached a dead end.
“Oh shig! This is wrong!” Spencer said, “We sharfled it somewhere. We should have ended up at a stairway.”
“Do you think we took the wrong corridor?” Woodrow asked.
“Maybe,” Spencer said, getting angry, “If you hadn’t been horsing around, we might have paid more attention---“
“Don’t try to pin this on me, crapstick!” Woodrow retorted, “You’re the brains of this operation, why didn’t YOU---“
The unexpected sound of distant footfalls silenced them.
“Did you hear that?” Spencer asked.
Whoever it was, was now running.
“We need to get out of this dead-end.” Woodrow said.
“Agreed.” Spencer replied.
They started to run, then realized that the owner of the footsteps had entered their corridor, and had them hemmed in. This person had a flashlight stronger than theirs, and shined it at them.
“WHO’S THERE?” Spencer called out, shining his lesser flashlight back at the other person.
“Brilliant maneuver, brain-boy.” said Woodrow.
“Guys?” the other person called back.
It was Herb’s voice.
“Herb?! Is that you?” Woodrow yelled.
“Yeah! Thank the gods I found you guys! I was in such a hurry when I left you, that I accidently gave you the wrong directions!”
“Smooth move, Herb.” Spencer said.
“Yeah, good job getting us lost there, pal.” Woodrow added.
The three met halfway down the corridor.
“When I realized my mistake,” Herb continued, “I figured Siana would kill me if something happened to you two, so I came running back to look for you guys.”
“Well, you found us.” Spencer said.
“We have to get out fast, this place is gonna be crawling with frain.” Herb said, “Well…more than usual.”
“Lead the way.” Woodrow said, “Just don’t get us lost again.”
Off they went.
Herb led them through the twists and turns of the corridors with the same expertise as before. At last they reached the stairs. There, on their way up, they ran into Siana; on her way down.
“Where were you guys?” she asked.
“I accidently gave them the wrong directions.” Herb said, with a sheepish smile.
Siana rolled her eyes. “You clod!” she said, and gave Herb a lighthearted smack on the forehead. “I’ll take them from here, thank you.”
“Just remember our deal,” Herb said, “When you’re the Crellat.”
“I always pay what I owe.” Siana said.