The grinding of the Tower grew louder and louder, scaling up to a steady rumbling, as if heavy machinery was powering up somewhere. For Dax, it was like standing in the maw of some enormous beast while its jaws were starting to grind together.

From overhead, there was a fizz of electricity and a heavy black cable dropped, writhing along the floor like a living thing. A second fell after it, wriggling sinuously as if it was planning to seize them.

“Come on!” Athellus grabbed Dax and started pulling him back towards the archway. Dax threw a glance over his shoulder – Kaire was standing at the other end of the foyer, watching them with an almost serene expression.

There was another hiss of electricity from overhead and a third cable fell, this one as thick as an arm. It landed between them and the way out, swishing across the floor like a rattlesnake. Athellus stopped dead, backing away from it. “Dax –“

“Don’t let them touch me,” Dax finished for him, feeling a hard calm in the midst of his terror. The other two cables were beginning to weave across the ground towards them, and more were beginning to drop from the ceiling. Back to back, the two men circled, Athellus pulling his gun free while Dax braced himself to kick anything that came towards him. The walls of the foyer were a blur. There had to be some other way out of –

Wait – what was that?

A pale flash on the back of one of the cables had caught his eye. Not just a flash. A code, printed in yellow ink.

12358-AJ.

…one…two…three…five…eight… A… J…Go to the right…

Dax didn’t hear it inside his mind as his own voice, as his own thoughts usually were – this came as the soft voice he had heard through the cell phone. That, and a faint breeze on the side of his neck was all the warning he had.

 

 

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